The Irish government has been accused of failing to take seriously the threat posed by a shortage of brain transplants.
Key points:The Department of Health says it will provide an extra €50 million to cover transplant costs in the next financial yearThe Health Service Executive says it has the power to impose a cap on how much a brain is able to costThe Department says it can provide an additional €50m in 2017-18Financial aid for brain transplanted patients could cost an estimated €250 million, according to a report by the Irish Times.
The Irish government announced last week it will spend an extra $75 million to help pay for the brain transplant waiting list in 2017.
This comes as the Government is under pressure to introduce a new brain transplant policy, which would limit the number of brain-injured patients allowed to receive treatment.
The report found that the Government could save €250m by reducing the number to around 150.
The Government’s plan is set to be unveiled at the beginning of this month.
A spokesman for the Department of Justice said the Government had no plans to impose limits on the number who could receive transplants, adding that “a cap is needed for people to be able to receive transplanted organs in the UK”.
The report highlighted the difficulties that patients who need brain transplans in the United States have had in getting an organ from the US, including waiting more than 18 months.
It said there was “a significant and growing body of evidence indicating that in order to make a transplant in the US possible, there is a substantial and growing need for brain transplantation services, including transplantation from the UK, the USA, Europe, and Asia”.
The Department said it would continue to work with the UK Government to ensure that patients can get transplants in Ireland.
It added: “The Department will continue to provide all necessary funding for the transplant waiting list and will provide advice on any changes to this.”
The report also highlighted that Ireland has been hit hard by the Zika virus crisis, with a large number of people needing transplants after contracting the virus in the country.
The Department has said that the number on the transplant list has remained relatively steady since it was announced in May.
However, the Government’s decision to impose the cap was seen as having been a mistake, with the report saying it was not being implemented to “meet a demand”.
The Government has also promised to provide a “threshold” of brain transplant donations in order for people in the Northern Ireland region to be eligible for transplants there.
It is also expected that there will be an additional $25 million in extra funding in the 2017-2018 financial year.
The new report said that in a “very tight budgetary situation”, the Government must be careful to not impose a limit on the amount of money it can spend on the brain transplant waiting lists.
The issue of transplant funding has been a source of public debate for years.
The Medical Research Council has repeatedly warned that funding for brain-implant transplants could fall short of what is needed.
In May, the Irish Government pledged €100 million for the Brain Transplant Fund in 2017, a decision that was criticised by the Medical Research Fund and others.
The UK has also made headlines for its refusal to fund brain-transplant procedures in Ireland, despite having the highest number of patients on the UK waiting list.