As I stated on the last occasion, the services provided for in section 2 of the Bill are precisely those recommended by Mr. Justice Quirke on page 35 of his report - GP services; prescribed drugs; medicines; aids and appliances; dental services; ophthalmic services; aural services; home support; home nursing; counselling services; chiropody; podiatry and physiotherapy. All of these services are specified in section 2 and will be made available free of charge to the women who were in Magdalen laundries.
It is incorrect to say, as has been said by some Deputies, that the Health (Amendment) Act 1996, HAA, provides for alternative therapies such as massage, aromatherapy, reflexology or acupuncture, counselling services for immediate family members of persons with hepatitis C, and that persons should not have to wait for more than two weeks for an appointment with a specialist, liaison officers or the personal advocacy service. There are no such provisions in the Act. However, some additional services were made available to HAA card holders - persons infected with hepatitis C - on an administrative basis, additional to those provided in the Act. These included drug treatments for hepatitis not on the approved medicines list, counselling for immediate family members in regard to the effects of hepatitis C and open access to hospital treatment in respect of hepatitis C. As I have said, these provisions are not contained in the Act and it would not make sense to include these specific provisions in the Bill as they are illness related.
On the question of alternative therapies, I have stated I am considering options for the provision of such services, on an administrative basis, outside legislation. As I indicated previously, the Minister for Health has serious reservations about such therapies being provided and funded through the health service. For that reason, they were not included in the Bill, just as they are not included in the Health (Amendment) Act or Mr. Justice Quirke's recommendations.