Saturday 19 January 2019

Calling disabled twins serial complainers is 'unacceptable', says TD

Ann Kennedy (left) and her twin sister, Dr Margaret Kennedy
Ann Kennedy (left) and her twin sister, Dr Margaret Kennedy

A TD has called the HSE's behaviour "totally unacceptable" after it labelled two disabled sisters "persistent complainers".

Fianna Fail TD for Wicklow Pat Casey, along with disability and elderly campaign groups, condemned the HSE's terminology when describing identical twins Margaret and Ann Kennedy (64) from Greystones, Co Wicklow.

The sisters have been in a long-running dispute with the HSE, campaigning for new wheelchairs which they said they finally received last month. They have also been in dispute over their care package.

Dr Margaret Kennedy requested Freedom of Information access to her and her sister's health records and was shocked to discover that the HSE had branded them "serial complainers".

"It's totally unacceptable to label two ladies with serious illnesses persistent complainers," Pat Casey told the Herald.

"It's not okay to label anyone that, but especially not in the case of two women who have genuine and serious medical conditions.

"When we go back to how these women's issues were dealt with from day one, this has been mishandled. I'm astounded at how they've been treated.

Dermot Kirwan, from Friends of the Elderly, said: "This is unprofessional and unhelpful language as a way to describe a service user and that's what the women are, service users."

The Disability Federation of Ireland said it "believes it is important for government services to be open to feedback from people with disabilities, especially as we head towards ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Person with Disabilities".

The Kennedy sisters are currently in a dispute with the HSE about the number of personal assistant hours they get. The HSE says the care they receive is satisfactory.

It is understood there have been repeated attempts to resolve the issues.

The Kennedys want to arr- ange their own care package to enable them to live a longer life in their homes.

To enable that to happen they want the HSE to allow them the independence to control their own PA hours.


"We are left all weekend without a PA. We think the HSE just want us to be little old ladies, sitting watching the TV all day and that's not us - we want to live our lives," said Dr Kennedy.

"I want to give lectures, to attend them too, and Ann is a talented painter and photo- grapher.

An HSE spokeswoman said: "The HSE does not comment on individual cases. However, the HSE can confirm that they are aware of and in ongoing contact with these clients."

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