Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin West, Jack Chambers has said that the most vulnerable patients in our health care system are being left isolated and completely exposed following a decision to slash funding for transporting cancer patients to hospitals by 50%.

The cut, revealed by the HSE in recent correspondence with Deputy Chambers, relates to St Luke’s Radiation Oncology Network (SLRON) which operates cancer services across St Luke’s Hospital, Rathgar and St Luke’s Radiation Oncology services at St James’s Hospital and Beaumont Hospital.

SLRON has previously covered the cost of transport for patients who cannot make their own way to hospital to receive life-saving treatment by providing private taxis, as well as operating some minibus services.

However, the SLRON, part of the HSE’s Dublin Midlands Hospital Group, which it pays for transport services out of its annual allocation, says it can no longer afford such expenditure.

“As a result of the current financial climate and recent expenditure restrictions, we have been forced to review the number of patients to whom we are able to offer assistance with transport at any one time with a target of reducing this expenditure by 50%,” the HSE told Deputy Chambers.

Speaking on the cutback, Deputy Chambers said, “I am aware of patients and their families who now concerned and in great distress as they have no idea how they will access treatment because of this decision.

“This means that newly diagnosed cancer patients have effectively been left isolated and completely exposed and many will struggle to receive this life saving treatment,” he said.

“It is important to remember these are very sick people who are very often are not well enough to drive themselves to hospitals or avail of public transport, where such services exist.

He continued, “I am calling on SLRON and the HSE to immediately re-examine this decision and provide the necessary funds to ensure the sickest in our health service receive proper access to treatment.”
“There has been severe mismanagement and wastage of funding within the HSE. Much more prudent and considered spending is required.

“This revelation exposes the repeated empty rhetoric by the Health Minister regarding a 10-years health plan that ultimately provides a little comfort to the patients who require a properly functioning health service. I urge the Minister to allocate an appropriate budget for transport services.”