Narcolepsy families "given run-around" by the State - Ó Caoláin
Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has said that people suffering from narcolepsy as a result of the Pandemrix vaccine have been "given the run-around" by the State and called on Health Minister James Reilly to account for his own role in the matter. Deputy Ó Caoláin was commenting after HSE Director General Tony O'Brien stated that he only became aware of a HSE letter ceasing support for medical expenses for these patients when he heard it on the media this morning. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
"It is quite extraordinary that a HSE letter notifying the cessation of support for medical expenses for this group of narcolepsy sufferers should have been issued without the knowledge of the head of the HSE. These patients developed narcolepsy as a result of the Pandemrix vaccine administered by the HSE. There was a high profile campaign to highlight their plight and there was widespread support for them in the Oireachtas, including from myself as a Health spokesperson.
"The representative group for these patients, SOUND, has stated that they were told HSE support for medical expenses would be discontinued when they met the Chief Medical Officer. Can it be the case that the Director General of the HSE was unaware of this?
"It must be asked where was Health Minister James Reilly is in all of this? The Chief Medical Officer comes under the remit of his Department. If the State Claims Agency was involved, as alleged, then surely the Minister would have been informed. Why did it take the Director General to hear of the letter on the radio and to intervene before the distress caused to these patients was addressed? Was the Minister aware and, if so, was he content to see the HSE support for these patients withdrawn?
"I welcome the fact that the Director General has now reinstated the HSE support for these patients who were given the run-around by the State. They should receive the clarity in writing they have requested and the Minister for Health James Reilly should set out his knowledge of and involvement in this affair."