Action taken against HSE by Irishman in Germany goes to European Court

HSE to cut Paul Flood’s treatment funds by 83%


A legal action over whether the Health Service Executive must pay for medical treatment being provided in Germany for an Irish former TV executive, who uses a wheelchair as a result of a rare illness, has been referred to the European Court of Justice.

While visiting his girlfriend in Germany in 2002, Paul Flood was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition affecting his brain stem.

He has received medical treatment there since then which, under EU law, is paid for by the HSE.

In November 2011, after the HSE said it was cutting funding, he took a case to the High Court.

Mr Flood (56), who lost motor function as a result of his illness, has limited use of his arms and hands and requires regular blood monitoring.

In late 2011, the HSE told him funding for his treatment was being cut by 83 per cent and he would receive €2,500 over a three-month period towards his medical costs.

The cost of treatment and services allowing him to live semi-independently is €60,000-€75,000 per year, he said.

The HSE has agreed to cover his healthcare costs until the matter is resolved.

It argues, as Mr Flood has been in Germany for so long, he is resident there and the cost of his care should be provided by the German authorities.

Yesterday, Mr Justice Gerard Hogan said the case raised an issue not previously considered by the European Court of Justice and he would stay the proceedings until that issue was determined by that court.

The issue for referral was whether Mr Flood, or someone in a similar situation, could be regarded as “staying” in an EU member state where they became ill for the purposes of receiving medical treatment which he might not obtain in their country of origin.

‘Gravely ill’
This case fell between the relevant legislative provisions in EU law concerning covering medical costs of EU citizens who either become ill or seek treatment in other member states, the judge said.

Mr Flood became “gravely ill” while on holiday in Germany and, due to his illness and the excellent treatment provided there, he must remain there unwillingly, the judge said.

Mr Flood, formerly of Rivercourt, Camac Close, Dublin, and now with an address at Lippestrasse, Dusseldorf, claims the HSE provided no rationale for its decision and doctors in Germany are concerned he was not covered in the event of an emergency.

He claims that the HSE’s actions breach his rights to fair procedures and are irrational, unreasonable and disproportionate.