Hep C, Positive Action and the HSE

Here is the information of a contre temps between Positive Action and the HSE. Thge issue was raised by Councillor Nick Killian at the HSE Forum in May in Kells.

The HSE reply is appended here.

Hepatitis C
A range of statutory healthcare services have been in place for those individuals infected with Hepatitis C through contaminated blood and blood products since 1996. There are approximately 1,500 clients availing of services under the terms of the Health Amendment Act and who hold Health Amendment Act cards (HAA cards). HAA cardholders are entitled to a wide range of healthcare services without charge for the duration of their lifetime including access to GP services, all prescribed drugs/medications, dental services, optical services, counselling, physiotherapy, complementary therapies, physiotherapy, chiropody, home support and home nursing. Enhanced services are also provided to this group of patients through eight designated Hepatology units in HSE hospitals where they can avail of dedicated clinics exclusively for HAA cardholders.

Annual expenditure on the Health (Amendment) Act scheme for these patients is in the region of €25m per annum. Approximately €8.5m of this expenditure relates to the provision of home support services for 620 of the HAA card holders to assist them in carrying out their day to day domestic activities as a result of ill health.

The HSE has been engaged in an extensive consultation process with each of the Hepatitis C patient support groups, HSE nursing services, GP representatives, Consultant Hepatologists and the Department of Health to ascertain where improvements in services can be provided to HAA cardholders and how to progress the process. Previous arrangements adopted a very much one-dimensional approach to providing services and the HSE are now seeking to improve services by co-ordinating the service and introducing a comprehensive assessment so that the health and social care needs of HAA cardholders can be reviewed (as some clients have not their situation or needs reviewed many years and may require more support than they are currently receiving). These assessments will allow the HSE to provide tailored and individual care plans specific to each client’s needs.

The clinicians involved fully support the introduction of a health and social care needs assessment in order to ensure a managed care approach and high quality service to this group of patients both now and into the future. Some of the patient representative groups have indicated their support to the process and agree the new arrangements will be of huge benefit to their members and have worked proactively with the HSE in reassuring their members of the benefits of the approach being taken.

A letter was issued to each HAA cardholder in order to clarify the changes which the HSE are going to be introducing in the near future and to allay any concerns or anxiety that patients might have.