Fianna Fáil TD for Kildare North Frank O’Rourke has called on the Minister for Health Simon Harris to make lifesaving monitoring equipment available to all Type 1 Diabetes sufferers.

Type 1 Diabetes sufferers have to monitor their blood glucose levels on a regular basis and currently need to perform invasive finger-prick blood testing up to 10 times a day.

A new device called the FreeSyle Libre allows Type 1 diabetes sufferers to carry out easier and more effective testing.

Deputy O’Rourke said, “Last month I called on Minister Harris to include this important lifesaving equipment under the Long-Term Illness Scheme. This scheme provides financial assistance to patients in covering the cost of the equipment that they need to monitor their illness. Following my request Minister Harris included the FreeStyle Libre equipment for children and young adults, although he has failed to indicate who exactly falls into this category.

“Earlier this week I raised this matter again in the Dáil with the Government. I pressed them to extend the scheme all Type 1 Diabetes sufferers. At the moment, there are 20,000 adults suffering from Type 1 Diabetes. None of these adults are covered under the scheme as it is currently restricted to children and young adults. This does not make sense when you consider Type 1 Diabetes is not restricted by age – adults continue to suffer from it throughout their lives.

“FreeStyle Libre costs approximately €120 a month. This is a significant cost for patients and means that many people who would benefit from using the equipment simply cannot do so due to the high cost associated with it. Minister Harris needs to recognise that the equipment should be covered for all sufferers of Type 1 Diabetes, including adults. It should not just be restricted to children and young adults.

“There is also an issue with the criteria for the scheme for children and young adults. Only those who are currently using the prick-finger test are included the scheme. Those who are using insulin pumps are unable to access the scheme, despite the fact that the HSE has indicated a preference for insulin pumps down through the year. There is no joined-up thinking with the current policy. People who follow the advice of the HSE should not be penalised.

“This is something which I will continue to raise with Minister Harris and his Government colleagues. This equipment is revolutionary and lifesaving. It should be included in the Long-Term Illness Scheme for all Type 1 Diabetes sufferers without delay. 13,000 people have signed a petition calling for this and I believe Minister Harris should meet with representatives of this campaign without delay. He needs to hear first-hand the concerns that they have,” concluded Deputy O’Rourke.