I wish to inform the Deputy that the Long Term Illness Scheme (LTI) was established under Section 59(3) of the Health Act 1970 (as amended). The conditions covered by the LTI are: acute leukaemia; mental handicap; cerebral palsy; mental illness (in a person under 16); cystic fibrosis; multiple sclerosis; diabetes insipidus; muscular dystrophies; diabetes mellitus; parkinsonism; epilepsy; phenylketonuria; haemophilia; spina bifida; hydrocephalus; and conditions arising from the use of thalidomide.
Under the scheme, patients receive drugs, medicines, and medical and surgical appliances directly related to the treatment of their illness, free of charge.
There are no plans to extend the list of conditions covered by the scheme at this time. However, I wish to inform the Deputy that the LTI scheme will be included as part of a review of the basis for existing hospital and medication charges, to be carried out under commitments given in the Sláintecare Implementation Strategy.
In relation to the number of paediatric consultants employed by the HSE that specialise in the treatment of patients with ME, I have asked the HSE to reply directly to the Deputy in this instance.