THE Patch Us Back Up campaign group are urging their almost 3,000 strong members to write to the Taoiseach, the Minister for Health and the head of the HSE requesting they reconsider their restrictions on the Versatis pain patches.
The group have been campaigning to make the pain patches available again under the medical card, drug payment scheme and hardship scheme after they were denied to thousands of people following the introduction of new qualifying criteria. Their online petition has reached almost 10,000 signatures.
A spokesperson for the group confirmed that they will send letters to the Dáil today which contain a spoon and plaster, to represent their deteriorating energy levels and lack of patches.
“We’re encouraging all our members to write to Leo Varadkar, Simon Harris and Tony O’Brien, urging them to make the patch more available to chronic pain sufferers,” said Alma Shanahan Power, one of the administrators of the Patch Us Back Up campaign.
“We are urging Simon Harris to sit down and work through this decision with us.
“People are being approved but only for three months or six months. Our concerns are what then?
“We’re hoping that the decision will be handed back to the GPs and pain specialists because the current appeal system can take 90 minutes,” she added.
“Approval takes 60 to 90 minutes which is way too time-consuming for GPs. Their surgeries are already full of sick people so to shorten the approvals form would be a major help to us all.
“Despite the weather, we are going ahead & posting to show we are still fighting this campaign.
“The snow and cold weather will a huge impact on a lot of chronic pain sufferers so friends and neighbours are helping us to get the post off.”
Cork woman Catherine Carroll, who suffers from chronic pain, said more needs to be done.
Speaking to the Evening Echo last month, Ms Carroll described the pain she experiences, particularly since a shortage of the patches, as a “living hell.”
She suffers from degenerative disc disease and suspected fibromyalgia, which causes chronic pain, and has had a number of unsuccessful surgeries since 1995.
“There is a light on it that wasn’t there before but it’s important that we’re not forgotten, that we keep fighting for these patches” she said.
Catherine revealed she only went outside approximately five times last year and three of those were to attend doctor’s appointments.
“I hope the government and the HSE look at our situation and realise what it would be like to spend a few days in our shoes, the pain we’re in,” she said.
Meanwhile, members of the Sinn Féin party in Cork have organised a public meeting on the issue next Monday in the Clayton Silversprings hotel at 7.30pm.
“It’s a briefing and an update on the situation and also a chance for the people who have been affected to come together and speak,” said Sinn Féin councillor Mick Nugent.