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Hepatitis C volunteers take HSE to court

PEOPLE with hepatitis C could lose their client confidentiality if a new HSE contract goes ahead, a Dublin-based support group has argued.

POSITIVE Action has launched a High Court action against the to block HSE.

It said its independence and client confidentiality would be destroyed if it was forced to sign an agreement demanded by the HSE in return for releasing €558,000 in annual funding.

The Dublin-based support group is run by a voluntary executive committee for people infected with hepatitis C through the contaminated blood product anti-D, which was manufactured by the Irish Blood Transfusion Board.

Autonomy

The action began after the HSE suspended the group's annual funding in 2012 when it refused to sign a special service contract giving the HSE significant oversight powers.

The HSE move came after it said it wanted to study the spending of some hepatitis C support groups in 2010-11.

Mr Justice George Birmingham was told yesterday by John Rogers, for Positive Action, that the issue was not about money, but rather independence and autonomy.

"The existence of Positive Action is because of something that was done to us by the State," he said.

The HSE says such agreements are required for all groups that it funds.

Under a High Court order in December, the HSE must make interim payments to Positive Action to cover its rental and utility commitments.

The case continues today.

hnews@herald.ie


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