Carers at risk over serious health issues

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Eleanor McSherry addressing the Fine Gael convention in Wexford last week-end.
Eleanor McSherry addressing the Fine Gael convention in Wexford last week-end.

A LIMERICK local election candidate put Health Minister Simon Harris in the spotlight at last weekend’s Fine Gael national conference when she asked him if he had any plans to support the many women carers who are at high risk of suffering from serious health issues.

Eleanor McSherry, who is a party candidate in the Limerick City North area, was first in line to question Minister Harris at the two-day event in Wexford when she told him that the majority of carers are women and they are most at risk of serious injury or illness.

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“I am a carer and eight years ago I co-founded, with six other parents, the Special Needs Parents Association of Ireland and today we have 50,000 members all across Ireland.

“Every meeting or conference I have been at, this issue has been raised and we particularly care about it,” she told the Minister.

Acknowledging the work of the Special Needs Parents Association, Minister Harris said that the law had been changed not once but twice in recent years, in terms of children with disabilities and their carers.

“We’ve changed the law to give every child in receipt of Domiciliary Carers allowance an automatic right to a medical card. No more of this nonsense of parents having to prove that their child has a disability needs for a medical card and no more reviews. That was a really important change we made.

“Secondly, we changed the law last year to answer the question, ‘who cares for the carer when they get sick or run down?

“We now have ensured that every carer in receipt of carers allowance or carers benefit has access to free GP care. We need to do a lot more on this but it is an important start,” he added.

However, the Limerick City candidate spoke to the Minister after the session as she was not totally happy and wanted to know what was being done for carers who were not in receipt of Carers Allowance.

“They don’t get GP cards or any financial support. When they are sick they cannot work or take care of their loved one or can pay for someone to help them,” she explained.

Minister Harris assured her that he was well aware of the issues and was looking into it in a cross-departmental manner to find a suitable solution.