NINE Corkonians made the eight-hour bus journey to Belfast to undergo cataract surgeries on Saturday, having failed to get the same procedure at home.
A group of 13 from Cork and Kerry travelled to Belfast to have the operation in December, under the Cross-Border Initiative.
Five from Cork city, three from West Cork, one from Macroom, and four people from Kerry made up the 13. The journey would not be necessary if the Government stepped in, says Michael Collins, TD. “The Government can fix this, if they choose to. They could set up operations in Bantry and Mallow general hospital, so people wouldn’t have to travel for hours, across the border, to ensure they keep their eyesight,” said the Independent TD for Cork South West.
“It’s unfair that, after all the hard work they’ve put in in their lives, this government is holding them to ransom, over something so precious as their eyesight.
“It’s unfair that they have to travel all the way to Belfast for surgery,” he added.
Under the Cross-Border Initiative, all patients will be compensated by the HSE for the cost of the surgery, which is €2,000. The surgeon will accommodate three more patients a day, rising from 13 to 16. “We have a full bus going up on the 3rd of February and a full bus going up on the 24th,” said Mr Collins.
“There is huge demand for this operation and the bus to Belfast because people do not want to lose their sight and our health service isn’t doing enough to help them.”