CHILDREN with life-limiting conditions in Donegal will now be offered subsidised flights to Dublin following confirmation of an decision by the Health Service Executive (HSE) this week.
The move has been welcomed by Sinn Féin Deputy Pearse Doherty who said the HSE’s agreement to subsidise flight costs for children in the county with life limiting conditions in order to travel to Dublin for treatment will make an enormous difference to more than 140 families in the county.
Deputy Doherty’s comments come after weeks of discussions involving the families of service users and HSE personnel and Management regarding the possibility of allowing sick children to fly from Donegal’s Carrickfinn Airport to avail of treatment at hospitals in the capital. “After a number of weeks of talks I am absolutely delighted that the HSE has agreed to provide funding of up to €2,000 to assist with air transport for children with life limiting conditions to travel from the airport here in Carrickfinn to Dublin where they can receive the necessary medical care.”
He added: “This fantastic announcement was made after a recent meeting between the HSE and local parents group ‘Our Children’s Voice’ where it was confirmed that the money would be made available for the initiative.”
Deputy Doherty added further: “It should not be underestimated what this decision means to all the families and loved ones of these young children who for years now have been forced to travel either by car or bus to reach Dublin to make hospital appointments, often travelling for five or six hours if coming from the west of the county.”
At present, there are more than 140 such families in Donegal who care for seriously ill children. Deputy Doherty confirmed he has been in contact with some of these families and said they are “absolutely overjoyed by this news”. “They have passionately lobbied for this initiative for a very long time and today I must congratulate them for their efforts,” he said. Deputy Doherty concluded that the HSE have written to him to outline their decision and stated that access criteria for this funding will be drawn up with plans hopefully to be finalised in June.