Cheaper Parkinson's care in UK


It costs less to send Parkinson's patients to the UK for a form of advanced treatment than to provide the service in Ireland, according to an assessment by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa).

Providing a national deep brain stimulation (DBS) programme in Ireland would cost €21,000 extra per patient over a decade compared with the cost of treating patients abroad, the report says.

Since 1997, more than 130 Irish patients have routinely left Ireland for treatment, funded by the E112 Treatment Abroad scheme. DBS is used to treat the symptoms of advanced Parkinson's, dystonia and tremors that cannot be controlled using medication alone.

Hiqa says an adequately resourced Irish service would have benefits for patients by improving access for people who cannot travel overseas and making treatment cheaper for others. However, these benefits would only be realised if international standards were adhered to in an Irish programme.

The report says a programme would place extra demands on existing resources and planning would be needed to ensure existing neurological services were not affected.

Hiqa says a national programme would cost almost €2 million more over five years than the overseas treatment option. However, changes to health insurance could impact on this cost difference. In particular, if the HSE could recoup the full cost of care for private patients from health insurers, the cost difference would be greatly reduced.

The report has been submitted to the HSE.