HIQA report on Midland Regional Hospital should be published as soon as possible – Buttimer

Monday, 23rd March 2015

  • In the interests of patients and families, HIQA’s report into the Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise should be published as soon as possible.

The HIQA report into the Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise was commissioned by the then Minister for Health, Dr James Reilly TD, because of serious concerns about how mothers and families were treated. In the interests of patients and families, this independent report must be published as soon as possible, all other considerations should be secondary and must not block or delay its publication. This is about patients and patient safety and it cannot be about anything else.

Every person has a right to fair procedure and a right of reply to any findings that might affect them. But the threat of legal action by a State body to prevent the publication of a report commissioned by a Government Minister was a step too far. It is welcome that a process for dealing with the report has been agreed between HIQA and the HSE, now what is required in constructive efforts to get the report published as soon as possible.

When the report was commissioned it was felt then and it remains the case now that we need an independent report that examines the hospital and the HSE so that we can reassure mothers and other patients that they are receiving appropriate care. At the most difficult time when parents lose a child they should be treated with compassion by hospitals, the HSE and all staff, thankfully in the vast majority of cases this is the case.


Posted under Health, National Work

Clarification of Lifetime Community Rating rules are reassuring – Buttimer

Thursday, 19th March 2015

  • Health Insurance Authority clarifies that periods of cover as a named adult on a health insurance policy will be taken into account for the purposes of Lifetime Community Rating.

Clarification of new health insurance rules by the Health Insurance Authority reassures everyone who is named on an existing policy. It is very welcome that the HIA has confirmed that any adult named on a health insurance policy will avoid any loadings that will come into effect from 30th April. The point about the new rules is to encourage people to participate in health insurance where they can afford it.

It is regrettable that there was a need for the rules about lifetime community rating to be clarified. But now that they have been, the interpretation makes practical sense. Where someone is named on a health insurance policy and a full adult premium is paid for them, those periods of cover are taken into account for the purposes of Lifetime Community Rating.

Lifetime Community Rating is all about encouraging people to take out and maintain health insurance from a younger age. The effect of this new policy will be to make it financially more attractive for people to take out health insurance before turning 35 years of age and to maintain it over their lifetime. Up until now there has been no incentive for younger adults to take out health insurance, from 30th April that will all change, there will be a clear benefit to taking out health insurance when you are younger and healthier.


Posted under Health, National Work

Extending access to Soliris a relief for patients – Buttimer

Wednesday, 4th February 2015

  • HSE extends access to Eculizumab (Soliris)
  • Exorbitant costs of new drugs and how much is paid by the State must be examined

The decision of the HSE to extend access to Eculizumab to people diagnosed with PNH and aHUS will come as a relief.  There have been protracted efforts by patients, their representatives and public representatives to get the HSE to make this decision.  I would like to thank the HSE for taking this decision which will make a huge difference to the day to day lives of people with these rare diseases.

Everyone’s efforts to bring about this decision again bring into focus the issue of the cost of medicines.  Eculizumab costs €430,000 per patient per year and efforts to get the manufacture to reduce its price were unsuccessful.  We need to examine closely how our drug purchasing model work and what can be done to reduce the costs to taxpayers.  Doing this can have two effects, it can save money and it can allow resources to diverted to other areas of the health service.

Over the next few months the Health Committee will be examining these broader policy issues.  I hope that this will allow us to ask why drug companies can in effect hold the HSE and Department of Health to ransom.

Posted under Health, National Work