Overseas healthcare case adjourned
A DISPUTE over an Irishman’s entitlement to have the Health Service Executive fund medical treatment in Germany for his rare illness may be resolved following a new offer from the HSE, the High Court heard yesterday.
Paul Flood (56) has been receiving treatment in Germany since he fell ill while on holiday there in 2002 with a rare genetic condition. It affects the brain stem and has left him quadriplegic and without motor function. Since 2002, he has received treatment in Germany which, under EU law, is paid for by the HSE. It costs €60,000-€75,000 a year.
Last November, Mr Flood was informed by the HSE the funding for his medical costs was to be cut by 83 per cent. With addresses at Rivercourt, Camac Close, Dublin, and Lippestrasse, Dusseldorf, Germany, he said he was greatly distressed by that decision and claimed the HSE had given no rationale for it. Mr Flood, who was studying and lecturing in Ireland before his illness, receives treatment and care in Germany which allows him to live semi-independently. Since contracting the condition, he has been living in Germany with his partner, the court heard previously.
Having investigated if he could return to Ireland, the only option here that appeared to provide the same type of treatment as in Germany would involve fully institutionalised living and a loss of any form of independence he currently enjoys, he said.
The case was due to open yesterday before Mr Justice Gerard Hogan but he adjourned it to January after being told the HSE had made an offer last Friday to Mr Flood to try to resolve the matter.
Shane Murphy SC, for the HSE, said it had refined a previous offer to Mr Flood to cover him under an alternative EU medical scheme, the E106 scheme, which entitles a person receiving social welfare to healthcare in another EU state.
This offer was made without requiring any concession from Mr Flood, who had said he intends to return to Ireland and was therefore entitled to medical treatment in Germany on that basis, counsel said. It would not affect his entitlement to receive social welfare in Ireland and was offered as a “practical solution to address his concerns”. In those circumstances, the HSE was seeking an adjournment to allow the alternative scheme to be implemented.
Lyndon MacCann SC, for Mr Flood, said he would only agree to the adjournment if the HSE undertook his client would continue to receive planned and emergency treatment pending the full resolution of the legal action.
On being told the HSE was giving that undertaking, Mr Justice Hogan adjourned the case to January and said the court could be informed in the interim of any developments.