Oireachtas committee concerned at difficulties between Health Dept and Ombudsman

first_imgAN OIREACHTAS COMMITTEE  is to call a member of the Department of Health before it to discuss the decision to end the Mobility Allowance Scheme and the Motorised Transport Grant.The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions agreed this afternoon to call the Secretary General at the Department of Health and Children, Dr Ambrose McLoughlin, before it to discuss last night’s decision, as it said it had not been informed in advance.Its members have also said they are increasingly concerned at the difficulties in the relationship between the Ombudsman and the Department of Health, which is being played out in public.SchemesOn 6 February, Dr McLoughlin, with Minister for Health James Reilly TD, Minister of State Kathleen Lynch TD and HSE officials, discussed with the committee the Ombudsman’s findings that both schemes are being operated on the basis of eligibility conditions which breach the provisions of the Equal Status Acts.Chairman of the committee Pádraig Mac Lochlainn said that at the meeting, the members heard the complexities around maintaining both these schemes. He said the committee was advised that a thorough review of both schemes was underway, based on consultation with current beneficiaries.Today, committee members expressed disappointment that they were not informed, either at that meeting, or in the intervening period, that the suspension of the schemes was being contemplated.They have now agreed to invite Dr McLaughlin to address a number of concerns arising from last night’s decision. They said they stand ready “to contribute to a workable, realistic and lawful solution”. Our committee resolved to continue to closely monitor developments, with the intention of publishing a report with recommendations to the Minister on how a pathway can be found ensure any new schemes are centred on fairness and compassion for those citizens most in need.Read: Kelleher: Dept of Health ringfence claim “strikes fear into me”>Read: Enda Kenny accuses opposition of making ‘political football’ of disability cut>last_img

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