Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Questions (244)

Richard Boyd Barrett


244. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Health if he will consider purchasing an upright MRI scanner here and failing that if he will allow patients in need of an upright MRI scan to travel to the UK and reclaim the full cost under the treatment abroad scheme, which currently does not cover it as it is only available in a private clinic in the UK; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40744/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As the provision of specific services in the acute hospital setting are an operational matter for the HSE I have asked the HSE to respond directly to the Deputy on the issue of purchasing an upright MRI scanner here.

In relation to accessing upright MRI facilities it is noted that patients often access services in other EU/EEA member states under different routes.

The Treatment Abroad Scheme (TAS) allows public patients to be referred to another EU/EEA country for treatment that is not available in Ireland, subject to qualifying criteria. A patient's Irish based consultant is responsible for referring the patient abroad under the terms of the TAS, after having exhausted all treatment options including tertiary care within Ireland. Applications to the TAS are processed and a determination given in accordance with the statutory framework prior to a patient travelling to avail of treatment. The statutory framework stipulates the patient must be a public patient and is required to have followed public patient pathways. Also, the treatment must be a proven treatment and not experimental/trial and it must be provided in the public health service of the country which the patient is being referred to.

In relation to the Cross Border Directive (CBD), patients in Ireland can seek to be referred to another EU/EEA country for medical treatment that is available in the public health service in Ireland. The patient may access the overseas service in either the public or private health sector of the country they choose to receive the service in. The patient pays for the treatment and claims reimbursement from the HSE at the cost of that treatment in Ireland or the cost of it abroad, whichever is the lesser.

Further information on the TAS may be obtained from the HSE website, by phone at 056 77845548 or by writing to the TAS Ofice, St. Canice’s Hospital Complex, Dublin Road, Kilkenny, Co Kilkenny. The contact details for the CBD are: National Contact Point: HSE Cross Border Directive, St Canice's Hospital, Dublin Road, Kilkenny. Tel: 056 778 4547 or 056 778 4546 or 056 778 4556. email: crossborderdirective@hse.ie,