Narcolepsy sufferers await confirmation of HSE payments

Two young women who claim they developed the sleeping disorder narcolepsy as a result of the swine flu jab are awaiting confirmation that the HSE will cover their medical expenses.

The High Court has heard that the HSE wrote a letter informing families that supports would be withdrawn from those taking legal action against the State.

This morning the HSE Director-General Tony O'Brien said he had not been informed about the letter, and it appears it will now be set aside.

If not, the two women will seek a court injunction forcing the HSE to provide medical funding.

Mary FitzPatrick, from the support group SOUND, said: "We feel that this is intimidation, that they're intimidating families that are taking court cases against them.

"So this is the decision; this morning the HSE announced that they would overturn the decision, but it's our understanding that this is with the State's claims agency. So it's confirmation from them we need, in writing, that this decision has been overturned."

The State Claims Agency (SCA) later issued a statement clarifying its position on the issue of the payment of ongoing expenses to claimants.

“The State Claims Agency is responsible for managing all aspects of personal injury and property damages claims being taken against the HSE,” it read.

“It is normal practice that the issue of ongoing or future out of pocket expenses of litigants, arising from the action on which the litigation is based, forms part of the broader assessment of damages at the conclusion of the action whether at trial or where a settlement has been agreed. Expenses claimed in respect of the Pandemrix issue have included costs of accommodation and other out of pocket expenses.

“In this particular instance, the State Claims Agency informed the Advocacy Unit of the HSE that it should cease making ongoing out of pocket payments to individuals who were suing the State and that these individuals should, as happens in every comparable litigated case, include these expenses as part of any special damages claim.

“The State Claims Agency did not advise the HSE of any requirement to alter its approach to the awarding of items like medical cards or the provision of other normal health benefits and supports allowed to the relevant individuals in the past.”

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