THE mother of a man who has spent four months longer than expected in a Cork hospital has called on the Health Minister to fulfill his promise and secure rehabilitation care for him.
Thurles man Darragh Stakelum (29), who lost his sight three years ago, has been in Cork University Hospital (CUH) since December last year after he was diagnosed with a brain tumour.
Following extensive treatment in CUH, which ended four months ago, he was expected to move on to an acute brain injury residential rehabilitation centre in Waterford to continue his recovery.
However, the HSE has said it does not have the necessary budget to pay the €153,000 annual sum for Darragh’s care.
The health service has spent around the same amount to keep him in CUH over the past four months alone - a cost of around €1,200 per day.
Tipperary TD Jackie Cahill (FF) raised the issue with Health Minister Simon Harris in recent weeks and said the Minister has agreed to address the situation.
“The Minister needs to keep his promise and sort this situation out,” said Darragh’s mother Breda, who spoke to The Echo from CUH. “Everyone involved in Darragh’s care has agreed that he needs rehabilitation and that the hospital setting is no place for him to be now.
“We can actually see him going backward in terms of progress and it’s clear that he needs to move to the rehab centre quickly so he can recover properly,” she added.
Darragh has represented Ireland in blind soccer, captaining them once, and in blind golf since he lost his sight in 2016.
“He didn’t abandon his country when he could have let the loss of his sight get to him,” said Breda.
“Now, I feel he is being abandoned by his country.
“His short term memory has been affected, his confidence is low and his mental health is suffering terribly,” she added.
“If we can get him to the centre, Darragh can get the care and support he needs to recover, get back home and represent his country again.”
Darragh’s family has calculated that more than 40 patients have been denied access to his bed and treatment during his time at CUH.
Delayed discharges stood at more than 470 at the end of December last year, with 16,623 bed days lost as a result.
“At the end of the day, Darragh doesn’t need this hospital bed but someone else certainly does,” said Breda. There appears to be no joined-up thinking in the HSE because if there was, they could allocate funding for his rehab care and free up this much-needed bed.”