The father of a seriously ill Magherafelt baby has slammed health chiefs after they refused to cover the cost of her care in a US hospital.
Baby Katie Maguire’s doting dad Gary McCann spoke of his family’s bitter disappointment after health minister Michael McGimpsey confirmed his department will not offer any financial help towards the child’s health care costs.
Baby Katie suffers from a rare form of epilepsy which means she can’t see, swallow or smile. The brave one-year-old was brought to Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago in June.
The additional treatment required has placed a massive financial burden on Katie’s family who say they need at least £250,000.
At the end of last month Gary McCann jetted back from the US for a joint meeting with the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister at Stormont, in a bid to build support for his daughter’s plight.
Mr McCann also met Health Minister Michael McGimpsey, who he asked to help pay some of the cost of Katie’s treatment in America. However, last week the minister sent a letter to Katie’s family rejecting their request for help.
Gary said: “I am angry and I feel at this stage they have closed the door on me. I feel he is saying he doesn’t want to hear any more from me. They are saying they won’t pay because the potential to have Katie treated in the UK or Europe was exhausted. But we begged for her to be referred to Great Ormond Street and they refused to do it.
“I then met the minister just weeks before we were due to go to America and he said he would try to set up a referral in Great Ormond Street. But we had already set everything up for America, it was simply too little too late.”
A spokesman for the Department for Health said: “The Department recognises that any serious illness affecting a young child will cause the family great distress and anxiety. The health service would only be in a position to commit money towards a referral to the United States if it was clear that the possible options within the health service in the United Kingdom had been exhausted and there was evidence that referral firstly outside the UK – and secondly outside the European Union – would offer better prospects for the patient.”