A Cork teenager in desperate need of a powerchair following the HSE’s inability to provide one has expressed his delight at being offered one that fits his needs free of charge by a member of the public.
The Echo last week broke the story of Mallow native Liam Lynch, who was hospitalised and is set to undergo skin graft surgery because the HSE could not provide a new powerchair due to funding restrictions.
Liam, who requires the motorised wheelchair, has been in hospital since January 19 and has missed his mock Junior Certificate examinations as a result.
The HSE said funding restrictions mean it cannot process all applications for powerchairs immediately.
Liam has needed a wheelchair since the age of seven when he was diagnosed with a tumour in his spine and scoliosis.
His mum has been appealing for a new powerchair, to accommodate his growth, for more than six months.
The Echo was contacted after reporting on Liam’s story, by a person offering to donate a powerchair to the youngster.
Liam’s mum Grainne said they have been in touch and found the chair seems to be a perfect fit.
“It’s such a generous offer and we’re delighted to accept it,” she told the Echo.
“It needs a few small adjustments but Liam can use an air cushion in it for now which is great.
“Liam is thrilled,” added Ms Lynch, who explained they will collect the chair following Liam’s surgery.
Liam’s surgery which was due to take place tomorrow has been delayed but Ms Lynch said they are hopeful it will go ahead in the coming days.
She also called on the HSE to provide more support for people in this situation.
“This should never have gotten to this stage,” she said.
Cork TD Sean Sherlock (Labour) recently called for a review of the HSE’s Resource Allocation Group, which he claims is unfair and ineffective.
He said children and young adults are being forced to compete for scarce resources through the scheme.
In a statement, the HSE said it wished Liam a speedy recovery and were very saddened to hear that he has been unwell.
The statement added that even once an application for funding for equipment is approved, there may be a lead time before manufacturers can deliver an order.
“Unfortunately, this is beyond our control.
“We sincerely regret that the funding available to us for this type of equipment is limited, and does not meet demand.
“Because of the significant demands on the budget for equipment, not all applications can be approved immediately — although in cases where there is an acute urgent need, approvals may be made within a very short time frame.”
Ms Lynch described the HSE’s comments as “ridiculous”.
“They know the amount of kids in their area and they know their profile,” she said.
“Provision should be made year on year for these kids.”