The Government is being accused of hiding behind new data protection rules (GDPR) instead of honouring a commitment to families and persons with lifelong or long term medical incontinence.
It’s been 18 months since the Fine Gael led minority Government announced a waiver scheme for over 60,000 people who must dispose of incontinence wear provided by the HSE. With the all in flat rate charging for waste phased out, an annual support of €75 was to be introduced ahead of pay per weight bin charges. The support fee was calculated on an average disposal of 650kg of incontinence product, in consultation with the waste industry and patient advocacy groups. Under EU regulations Ireland must reduce the amount it sends to landfill by a minimum of 10% by 2035.
Labour TD for Cork East, Sean Sherlock, who is challenging the Government to honour its promise says the waiver would “give untold support to families” who are in desperate need. More than a quarter of people with a disability live in consistent poverty, with as many locked out of the jobs market, according to the 2016 census. There are 643,131 people with a disability in Ireland, which is 13.5% of the population. Minister for State, Ciaran Cannon said that while the Government is still committed to introducing the support “as soon as practically possible”, GDPR has thrown up a number of issues surrounding its implementation. He said “any information that relates to the physical health of a person is sensitive personal data and must be treated very carefully.”
However, deputy Sherlock believes the Government is using the GDPR argument as a “dodging mechanism.” “There are a myriad of Departments that handle personal details about individuals. One could easily administer a scheme that would give €75 to every family which has an issue relating to long-term medical incontinence” he said.
East Cork advocate for people with a disability, Liz Maddox, said providing an annual €75 waiver is “neither here nor there.” “Bin companies should be providing their own rates for the long-term ill as they already have the data.” The 2016 carer of the year said ideally there should be a separate bin for the disposal of incontinence wear and other related waste. “Not only would it be more hygienic, but the user could also register for the facility thus bypassing any issues surrounding GDPR” commented Ms Maddox.