Fianna Fáil TD for Sligo-Leitrim Eamon Scanlon says haemochromatosis patients living outside of Dublin are being penalised with excessive charges for essential treatment.  People with the condition have to undergo venesection, which involves the removal of a pint of blood, to keep it under control.  This treatment is free in St. James’s Hospital in Dublin, however patients who don’t have a medical card are not living in Dublin are forced to pay €80 per treatment.

Deputy Scanlon commented, “This is an issue that arises time and time again but the Health Minister has failed to take action.  This €80 charge was only introduced in 2013 after changes were made to the Health Act.  It’s completely ridiculous that some patients are being forced to pay the charge while others are not.  It’s discrimination based on address.

“I welcome correspondence from Minister Simon Harris that a meeting is being arranged to consider “the issue of the application of the public in-patient charge of €80 for venesection in Acute Hospitals as well as broader issues in relation to the treatment of patients with Hereditary Haemochromatosis”.

“It is deeply unfair that some people are having to pay the fee while others aren’t.  This isn’t an optional procedure – if patients don’t undergo the treatment they could end up with liver damage.  The Minister and the HSE need to level the playing field and ensure that all haemochromatosis sufferers have access to free venesection and phlebotomy services so that they can keep their condition under control”.