Fianna Fáil General Election Candidate, Cllr Joe Flaherty has said it is a sad indictment on the Health Service that the only option open to many patients is to travel under the cross border or treatment abroad scheme.

Cllr Flaherty was speaking as he and Deputy Robert Troy have organised a second trip to the Kingsbridge Hospital in Belfast for a group of constituents awaiting cataract procedures.

Cllr Flaherty explained, “Without the option of the cross border initiative these people would be waiting for exceptionally long times to get treatment. Some have already been waiting for years prior to applying for the cross border initiative. With every day that goes by their health is deteriorating.

“To see a person’s day-to-day life diminished as a result of worsening cataracts, or because they can barely move for want of a knee replacement, is very sad. Knowing that there are routine procedures which can alleviate this, but that they are not available within a reasonable timescale in this country, is even worse.

“Unfortunately we now see that such are the volumes of people applying for treatment under the initiative there are delays on the part of the HSE in processing the applications. Patients want to know that they are travelling to Belfast, safe in the knowledge that they will be reimbursed the significant costs which they incur.

“Obviously we need to be able to treat our people here in Ireland, it is not fair to expect them to travel abroad but for as long as they do I am happy to help people with their applications and with organising their trip”, concluded Cllr Flaherty.