National Rehabilitation Hospital strategic partnership is questionable - Martin Kenny TD
Sinn Féin TD Martin Kenny raised the issue in the Dáil under Topical Issues, of the National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH) giving preferential treatment to a private company called Ability Matters, who make prosthetics and with whom the hospital has a strategic partnership.
Deputy Kenny said:
“We have a National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH) which is supposed to provide a service to all citizens equally. This hospital receives millions every year in public funding.
"The consultants in NRH and the Rehabilitation teams are all paid for with taxpayer’s money. Yet we find cases where some citizens are being refused this vital service because they received their prosthetic limb from a different company.
“I became aware of this situation because of a constituent who is being refused intensive inpatient rehabilitation by the NRH and when I looked into the situation I believe that there is a clear issue of discrimination here.
“It is scandalous that this is allowed to continue and it needs urgent action to ensure that all patients have access to rehab services which are being paid for by the taxpayer.
“This strategic partnership is also questionable because it doesn’t appear to deliver great value for money as other providers could offer products and services at keener rates.
"It appears to be a cosy arrangement between the well-connected and we had hoped these type of arrangements were all in the past.
“A person who loses a limb goes through huge anxiety and stress and they need every assistance possible allow the body to become accustomed to using the prosthetic limb and difficulty accessing rehab services adds to the stress.
“There are a range companies in Ireland providing prosthetics in cooperation with multi-disciplinary teams in various hospitals around the country.
"The NRH have this contract with a company called Ability Matters to the exclusion of others and it appears to extend that exclusion to rehab services for people who are provided with prosthetics from other companies.
“I consider this arrangement completely unethical and discriminatory towards some citizens.
“Junior Minister Katherine Byrne acknowledged that the answer given by the department was unsatisfactory and she gave a commitment to look in to the matter and provide a more satisfactory response.
“Clearly there is something not right with this cosy arrangement that the NRH has with Ability Matters and it is time the Minister addresses the issue.”