Concern over HSE nappy scheme


Children with special needs are experiencing “extreme discomfort” because of a new brand of nappy provided under a Health Service Executive scheme, according to the Special Needs Parents Association (SPNA).

Chairperson of the SPNA Lorraine Dempsey, whose 9-year-old daughter Rianna has cerebral palsy, said the association has been “inundated” with calls from parents expressing concerns over the quality of the new brands which are tearing, leaking and causing skin rashes.

The free nappy scheme is available to children over the age of three years who have not been toilet trained because of a disability.

Each child is allocated an average of three nappies per day depending on their needs, which are distributed to parents by local health nurses.

Parents of children availing of the scheme received a letter from the HSE last month to notify them that the brand of nappies would be changing.

“The different sizing between the old brands and the new has been a problem, but that can be easily rectified if other sizes are available,” said Ms Dempsey.

“The bigger concern is the quality. They are leaking and tearing, are very abrasive on the skin, ill-fitting and made with far poorer quality materials than the previous ones.”

Younger children wear large baby nappies, while older children use a small adult size. Neither size is available in supermarkets, so parents are very reliant on the HSE provisions, according to the SPNA.

“Some of these children would be wearing them 24 hours a day for years on end,” said Ms Dempsey. “The material that absorbs the fluid is actually hard in places, and for a child who is sitting in a wheelchair all day and is already at risk of pressure sores, that could cause huge problems.”

A spokeswoman for the HSE said the contract for continence products in the Dublin Mid-Leinster and Dublin North East regions has been in place since a procurement process last December.

The new contract will save the HSE an estimated 26 per cent on the cost of 65 products, including children’s nappies.

Ms Dempsey said parents have been contacting their local health nurses to complain about the new continence products, and the association plans to make a formal submission to the HSE if the problem is not rectified.

“We are hoping the HSE will look again at the procurement process,” she said.

“If this is a cost saving measure, they might be getting a better a deal, but as a result children with special needs are getting a poorer quality of continence wear, which is a very basic right for these kids. Their skin needs to be protected.”