Parents of children in hospital face a weekly loss of income of €300 in addition to other costs

Parents with children in hospital can suffer a loss of income of €300 a week, on top of other non-medical costs such as travel, parking and accommodation, it has been revealed.

The Children in Hospital Ireland group is calling on the Government to introduce a social protection payment to help parents struggling with these financial burdens.

Loss of income can result from taking time off work or, in some cases, from giving up work altogether.

In its pre-budget submission, the group said other non-medical costs could amount to as much as €100 a day during a child’s hospitalization.

Anna Gunning, Chief Executive of Children in Hospital Ireland said: “Parents are an important part of the care team when their child is ill. This means they spend extended periods of time with their child in the hospital, which can have significant financial consequences.

“Parents face additional costs and also find it very difficult to work.

“The average lost income of parents surveyed by Children in Hospital Ireland was €300 per week.

“A third of the parents surveyed gave up their jobs to look after their sick child. A majority reported negative financial impacts and concerns about their finances due to their child’s hospitalization.

“We are particularly concerned about the impact on parents whose child requires long-term hospitalization and repeat visits, as they are likely to be hardest hit.

“Even before recent developments, families with children in hospital were grappling with a cost-of-living crisis. These families have felt the financial challenges of the last few months and are becoming increasingly unsustainable.”

Calling for a new Social Security payment, the organization said the supports currently available are limited and do not address the unique and complex challenges posed by a child’s hospitalization.

It proposes a payment to help parents with children who have lengthy hospital stays or are in frequent hospitalizations.

“This payment would help address parents’ financial hardship and would recognize the vital role they play in caring for their ailing child,” it said.

“The cost of this payment to the Treasury would be minimal but fundamental to parents. Only a small minority of the total number of children hospitalized each year have long stays or require repeated treatment.”

Significant costs parents face include travel and parking, food, housing, childcare for other children and mental health support, it said.

Separately, acute inpatient hospitalization fees for children under the age of 16 will be eliminated early next month.

Health Secretary Stephen Donnelly said that currently public patients, including children, are subject to a statutory public inpatient fee of €80 per night, up to a maximum of 10 nights (€800) in any 12 month period.

Health card holders are exempt from these fees. Now a law has been passed to abolish the public inpatient fee for under 16 year olds.

President Michael D. Higgins signed the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) (No. 2) Act 2022 into law earlier this summer.

The hope is that it will come into effect in early September. Parents of children in hospital face a weekly loss of income of €300 in addition to other costs

Fry Electronics Team

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