Tens of thousands of patients suffering harrowing pain refused treatment as Dail told Government has slashed health service funding

Government funding plan for HSE made ‘in the full knowledge it will not be sufficient.’

‘Attempt to hide the truth from the public.’

Sligo News File.

Fianna Fail Leader, Micheal Martin, TD

As RTEs Joe Duffy Liveline programme exposes the horrific details of 25,000 patients left to suffer permanent excruciating pain after a decision of the Health Service Executive Medicines Management Programme to remove the only treatment claimed to relieve their suffering from the medical card or Drugs refund scheme, the Dail has been hearing that Government funding of the HSE has been slashed for the current year.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin, a former Minister for Health, said the Government had published a spending plan for health in 2018 “in the full knowledge that it will not be sufficient.”

He said: “… there has been an attempt to hide the truth from the public.”

The attempt to paper over a disagreement with the HSE was made “by putting in a figure of €346 million in value for money savings.”

Days after the publication of the plan, he said the “HSE director general stated that targets would not be realised. This was subsequently revealed by The Irish Times also.”

Ongoing chronic pain.

He said correspondence showed “there was an understanding, or that assumption were made, to keep off the books potentially hundreds of millions of euro in other risks.

“For example, there was no provision for pay pressures, €68 million of which was in the earlier draft.”

“The Government also instructed the HSE not to include any sum in the plan to deal with a carryover of its financial deficit from 2017.”

Martin also noted that the director general of the HSE had also estimated additional “significant challenges” facing the service, “but the Government clearly wanted the financial difficulties played down in the published service plan.”

He said Departmental correspondence stated:

“The financial challenges need to be addressed only once (in the financial section?). Details on the assumptions and arrangements to address financial challenge should be contained in the letter accompanying the NSP [national service plan] rather than included in the main document.

“Decoded,” it meant, he said “the HSE is being told to bury the negative stuff as effectively as it can, and not to put it upfront because the public might see it too clearly.”

Despite the scale of suffering revealed in a near tidal wave of desperate calls to Liveline, both the HSE and Government are still refusing to restore the pain relieving treatment known as Versatis to the medical card or Drugs Refund Scheme.

Calls for Vimizim, said to be the only enzyme replacement therapy for an “ultra-rare” inherited disease that affects major organ systems in the body, have also been rejected to date.

 Sligo-Leitrim TD Marc MacSharry has highlighted the case of the patients who suffer from Morquio Syndrome, the condition for which the therapy is urgently needed.