Nessa Childers, MEP for Dublin, welcomed the adoption of her demands for improved access to healthcare for persons with disabilities by the Public Health committee of the European Parliament.
Over the past two years, Ms. Childers has been tasked by the Environment and Public Health Committee with monitoring the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Europe from a healthcare perspective.
Speaking after the Committee vote in Brussels, Ms. Childers said:
“We have been through almost a decade of austerity and immense pressure on public services, as the crisis increased demand and cuts reduced capacity.
“This means the most vulnerable amongst us have been hit hard, and exclusion worsened.
“We must refocus resources to halt these backwards steps and aim for no less than equal access to the highest attainable standard of health for all, as a fundamental right.
“There is a generalised deficiency when it comes to appropriate care for persons with disabilities, long waiting times and an overall lack of specific knowledge and awareness among care providers.
“This comes on top of the physical and sensory barriers that persons with disabilities need to navigate, and often leads to a needless degradation of the overall condition of patients.
“We are senselessly sacrificing people’s wellbeing, only to make their conditions harder and more costly to treat.
“EU patients have a right to seek treatment elsewhere in the EU, provided they are entitled to that treatment in their home country, and to be reimbursed by their home country to the same tune.
“However, very few EU citizens are aware of this right, and there is even less knowledge and uptake among patients with disabilities.
“This is not surprising, because, besides having to navigate the substantial paperwork the home country administrations demand, the legislation has failed to anticipate and provide for the specific needs and expenses a disability entails when travelling abroad.
“We want to see it reviewed so that in can apply in a non-discriminatory manner.
“There are also problems with a lack of proper legal protection from undue denials of informed consent to treatment, and the specific rights of girls and women with disabilities.
“Ireland stands alone among EU countries for its continued failure to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
“Our record of consistently missing the deadlines we set ourselves speaks poorly for our priorities as a society. We must seriously reassess them.”