Contingency plans in place if Belfast trip ends

Patients face trip to Europe for operations

By Michelle Crean

Kerry patients seeking treatment for cataracts, hips and knee surgery in Belfast could soon face a trip abroad – in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Thecross-border directive will most likely end in October, which means the Kerry and Cork patients who have been travelling north for treatment, which is organised by the Healy-Raes, will no longer have access to the service.

Patients face up to a four year wait here but can be seen in Belfast in a matter of weeks. Forover 18 months, 14 patients are brought per trip to Knightsbridge Hospital – the maximum the clinic will take on one day.

The most common trip is for cataract operations, which is a two-day trip, up Friday for consultation and home Saturday evening after their operation. Orthopaedic surgery such as knee and hip operations are also carried out there, but this involves two trips up.

However, both Kerry Independent TDs, brothers Michael and Danny, are already making contingency plans to bring patients to Spain, Italy or other European countries if Britain crashes out of the EU on October 31.

“The cross-border directive will most likely end in October with Brexit, so our buses will end,” Michael Healy-Rae TD told the Killarney Advertiser this week.

“We are currently full for August and September taking people up. The next available date is September 27.”

He said that he’s up to his eyes organising everything behind the scenes as he fears what October’s outcome will be.

“The Dáil have given me assurances but I’m putting in contingency plans, whether it’s Spain, Italy or where ever,” he said.

“The Minister for Health and all those that support him should hang their heads in shame that I’ve to take people on a boat or a plane abroad. We’re pumping millions upon millions of euro into the health service in Ireland. It’s crazy. It’s insane. They should see how wrong this is.”

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