€1.2m funding for ‘tracheostomy’ babies
Advocacy group ‘happy’ with funding stream
Dylan Gardiner (23 months) from Graiguenamanagh, Co Kilkenny, and his mother Caroline at Our Lady’s hospital, Crumlin, Dublin, last month. Photograph: Eric Luke
The advocacy group for babies who have had tracheostomies is “happy” with the provision in the HSE service plan of €1.2 million for homecare packages for this group of children.
Colm Young, founder of the Tracheostomy Advocacy Group, which has for several years campaigned for a ringfenced national funding stream to allow tracheostomy babies to be discharged safely from hospital once they are well, described the provision as “not enough but certainly a step in the right direction”.
Last month, The Irish Times highlighted the situation of seven babies in Our Lady’s hospital in Crumlin who had had tracheostomies and were well enough to go home but were “trapped” as the HSE was refusing to sanction homecare packages to enable them to leave. Aged between three months and three years, they had been waiting up to two years to go home.
A tracheotomy entails making an incision in the neck of the patient who cannot breathe unaided. This creates an opening (tracheostomy) in the trachea or windpipe, and a small tube is inserted to enable the person to breathe.
The babies must be ventilated and monitored 24 hours a day. Their tracheostomy tube may need to be unblocked more than 100 times a day.
Parents or guardians must be trained to provide this type of care before the babies can be discharged, and hospitals will not discharge the babies until a safe homecare package – including night and day nursing hours – is in place.