My Department has engaged with relevant stakeholders, including representative organisations and public bodies, in an effort to see how best to provide the support to the target group. These bodies have also examined how health professionals and community welfare officers could assist the scheme. It should be noted however that none of the options around verification are straightforward, and we must be cognisant of data minimisation where sensitive personal medical information is involved. It is disappointing that it has not yet been possible to implement a support measure. It is important for all those involved, including the representative organisations, that the support goes to the correct people and that the scheme is not dependent on applications that cannot be verified.
A number of models of delivery have been explored, but challenges arose in all options. Significant personal data concerns, under the new GDPR arrangements, were raised in one case. High administration costs and procurement issues were also identified that would have been problematic in terms of getting the balance right between the prevention of fraudulent claims and the delivery of the scheme in a cost effective manner. Unfortunately, the absence of a database of persons who are in receipt of incontinence products from the HSE, which could be used to verify persons who are medically incontinent, has impacted on the delivery of a cost effective scheme.
Notwithstanding the complex issues at play, which are understandable given the sensitive nature of the medical data in question, I would like assure the Deputy that I continue to be committed to address this issue. My Department is calling the stakeholders together on 13 June to discuss the matter further and a number of possible solutions to deliver this scheme.