Written Answers. - GMS Ostomy and Urinary Products.

Nora Owen

Ceist:

99 Mrs. Owen asked the Minister for Health the submissions, if any, he has received from the Ilestomy and Colostomy Associations arising from his Department's proposals to remove a number of appliances from General Medical Service, which were previously in satisfactory use by patients; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1018/94]

Nora Owen

Ceist:

131 Mrs. Owen asked the Minister for Health the number of colostomy or ileostomy appliances which have been removed or are being removed from General Medical Services, if his attention has been drawn to the trauma and stress caused to such patients by this proposal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [971/94]

Frances Fitzgerald

Ceist:

225 Ms F. Fitzgerald asked the Minister for Health the reasons the Irish made fannin ostomy appliance has been removed from the GMS listing; and if he will give details of the criteria and qualifications of the committee responsible for the assessment and ultimate decision to omit these supplies. [517/94]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 99, 131 and 225 together.

In 1992, the General Medical Services (Payments) Board decided to establish a working group to review in depth how the needs of people receiving non drug items, including ostomy products, under the GMS scheme were being met and if these needs could be met more efficiently.

The purpose of the review of ostomy-urinary products on the General Medical Services scheme was to ensure that the needs of users of ostomy-urinary appliances would be met in the most effective manner and that the most modern "user friendly" products should be available on the GMS scheme. To this end, each product currently on the scheme was evaluated by a group which included specific expertise in stoma care, on the basis of quality, suitability, and security.

Following this evaluation, it was decided that a number of out-dated products should be replaced because they had been superseded by the more advanced products referred to above.

Officials of my Department met with the Ileostomy Association on 20 July 1994 and it was explained that although certain products were being removed from the GMS list, this was only being done in order that more modern products could be made available on the GMS scheme. The association contacted my Department the following day to express their satisfaction with the outcome of the meeting.

Both my Department and the GMS (Payments) Board are concerned to ensure that a quality service continues to be available to persons receiving ostomy-urinary products and that the introduction of these changes should not be a source of anxiety or uncertainty to individuals who need to avail of such products. It is fully recognised that some patients may have difficulty or may not wish to change from the older type products. Each health board has been requested to make arrangements for a health board stoma nurse or other health board professional trained in stoma therapy to make contact with these patients for the purposes of discussing their particular needs and making them aware of the benefits of the newer type products.
Existing arrangements for the supply of older type products will continue in all cases until such time as this contact has been made and any changes have been discussed and agreed between the health board professional and the patient concerned. Where patients do not wish to change, arrangements will be made for them to continue to be provided with their existing appliances.
I would like to emphasise that the wishes of these patients will be fully respected in this regard and that there is no question of patients being forced to change appliances.