Thursday, 12 December 2019

Questions (154)

Peter Burke

Question:

154. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Health his plans regarding compensation for the young persons who received the H1N1 swine flu Pandemrix vaccine and subsequently developed narcolepsy in view of a recent case (details supplied); if there are non-legal routes being considered due to the stress this causes young persons and their families and the cost to the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52221/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The State Claims Agency has statutory responsibility for the management of claims relating to the HSE, including those relating to the H1N1 Pandemrix vaccine and I have no role in determining how these cases are conducted.

An Expert Group was established in June of last year, under Judge Meenan, to examine the law in relation to personal injuries arising in the healthcare context and to explore alternative mechanisms by which claims could be managed more effectively, particularly from the perspective of the person on whose behalf a claim has been made. A report from this Expert Group is expected in the coming weeks, the recommendations of which will be taken into account in relation to the development of any vaccine compensation scheme.

In addition, the Health Research Board recently completed a review of the evidence on vaccine injury redress programmes in other jurisdictions and this report will also be considered in conjunction with the Expert Group’s recommendation.

Since 2012, the Department of Health, the HSE, and the Department of Education and Skills, and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection have worked together to provide a wide range of services and supports for those affected. The HSE’s Advocacy Unit acts as liaison with service and support providers and other Government Departments to facilitate access to required services. It has also engaged with representatives of SOUND (Sufferers of Unique Narcolepsy Disorder). Four regional narcolepsy co-ordinators have been appointed as single points of contact to assist patients and their families by providing advice, information and access to local services. The ex-gratia health supports include:

- clinical care pathways to ensure access to diagnosis and treatment;

- multi-disciplinary assessments led by clinical experts;

- counselling services for both the individuals and their families;

- discretionary medical cards for those who have been diagnosed;

- physiotherapy and occupational therapy assessments.