Patients suffering from a chronic respiratory illness should receive a universal electricity subsidy, a Fine Gael TD has said.
Louth Deputy, Fergus O’Dowd, said some HSE Community Health Organisations already provide an electricity refund to patients suffering from chronic COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), who use oxygen for more than 16 hours per day, and has called for this grant to be extended across the country.
Patients rely on the use of machines for oxygen supply for long periods of time every day due to breathing difficulties, often incurring significant bills.
Deputy O’Dowd said: “Patients suffering from this debilitating illness must be hooked up to oxygen for several hours every day. Some people rely on their equipment for up to 20 hours a day to help them breathe.
“While equipment and oxygen supplies are provided to medical card holders free of charge and refunds for equipment can be made available through the Drugs Payment Scheme for other patients, the electricity costs fall on the patient, and the costs can be quite significant.
“The HSE has confirmed to me that a number of Community Health Organisations (CHOs) are providing patients under their remit with a subsidy and I am calling for this system to be extended to COPD patients all around the country.”
Deputy O’Dowd continued: “The CHO covering Dublin South West, South City, Kildare and West Wicklow supports 13 service users with COPD with a subsidy in respect of their electricity bill.
“The CHO covering Dublin North provides a rebate of €37.73 every two months to COPD sufferers on oxygen therapy for at least 16 hours per day and currently 17 service users are in receipt of this rebate.
“In Dublin North Central a rebate up to a maximum of €56.40 every two months is available. Of the 200 service users currently requiring oxygen therapy, 15 are in receipt of this rebate.
“It’s time this was extended to patients elsewhere in the country. Patients suffering from this chronic illness should not be faced with extortionate bills for treatment that helps keep them out of acute hospital care.”