Written Answers. - Post-Polio Syndrome.

Mary Wallace

Ceist:

261 Miss M. Wallace asked the Minister for Health if he will make a statement on the action, if any, which has resulted from the meeting of the Minister of State at his Department with an all-party group concerning post-polio syndrome; and the action, if any, which is currently under consideration. [16893/96]

Mary Wallace

Ceist:

262 Miss M. Wallace asked the Minister for Health his views on whether persons suffering from post-polio syndrome or the late effects of polio can require significant medical assistance; his views on whether they are currently receiving assistance which in any way relates to the level of need and that the basic range of means-tested benefits are insufficient for their needs and represent a significant poverty trap for them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16895/96]

Mary Wallace

Ceist:

263 Miss M. Wallace asked the Minister for Health the number of persons suffering from post-polio syndrome or the late effects of polio receiving the assistance of medical schemes in each of the health board areas; the number who have unsuccessfully applied for such assistance; and the efforts, if any, undertaken by his Department and by bodies under the aegis of his Department to establish the nature and scale of the need for services for these people. [16896/96]

Limerick East): I propose to take Questions Nos. 261, 262 and 263 together.

I am aware of the existence of the condition referred to as the "late effects of polio" LEP or post-polio syndrome which has been reported among people who suffered in the past from acute poliomyelitis.

People suffering from post-polio syndrome have reported a range of physical problems such as respiratory or speech difficulties, unusual fatigue and pain in muscles and joints. The management of these symptoms is possible through health services available for people with disabilities such as orthotic services, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech and language therapy services, as well as home based services such as home help and aids and appliances.
LEP sufferers are entitled to apply for assistance under a wide range of schemes which are available to all people with disabilities. In addition, patients with post-polio syndrome can be assessed and their condition monitored by a neuromuscular neurologist with experience in LEP at the neuromuscular clinic in Beaumont Hospital.
The Post-Polio Support Group was in contact with both myself and the Minister of State concerning the establishment of a trust fund for sufferers of post-polio syndrome. I wrote to the Post-Polio Support Group last May giving details of the wide range of schemes available to its members. In the circumstances special arrangements are not necessary to secure proper care.
Currently available statistics on the number of admissions of post-polio sufferers to hospital are gathered by the hospital in-patient inquiry — HIPE — data. This indicated that there were 26 — 14 male and 12 female — people with post-polio syndrome admitted as inpatients to acute hospitals in 1995.
As entitlement to assistance under medical schemes operated by health boards is not confined to any specific illness or disability, information is not available on the numbers of post-polio sufferers availing of such schemes.