Fianna Fáil TD for Kildare South Fiona O’Loughlin has called for the expansion of the Long-Term Illness Scheme to cover people debilitated by Crohn’s disease.

The Long-Term Illness Scheme covers the medical and surgical costs for a patient who suffers from certain illnesses or disabilities. Deputy O’Loughlin asked the Minister for Health Simon Harris to consider including Crohn’s disease as one of the conditions covered by the scheme.

Deputy O’Loughlin said, “Crohn’s disease is an incurable lifelong condition which causes serious hardship for many people. There are currently 20,000 people in Ireland with the condition including 450 children. Over 1,000 new cases of the disease are being identified every year.

“There are serious medical expenses associated with treating Crohn’s disease. These expenses are currently not covered by the Long-Term Illness Scheme despite the fact that the disease is incurable and stays with patients for life. It is a reasonable request to consider adding the disease to the scheme to help assist patients in meeting their medical costs.

“It’s also important that we develop a national strategy to tackle Crohn’s disease as it has a devastating impact on the everyday lives of many people. There has been a 90% increase in cases in children between the years of 2002 and 2012. We need a plan in place to help effectively treat these children as they age. There is a lack of specialist inflammatory and bowel disease nurses which needs to be addressed, along with long waiting times for diagnostic tests.

“I raised that matter in the Dáil directly with Minister for Health Simon Harris. He has committed to examining the proposal and I am hopeful that Crohn’s disease can be included in the scheme.”