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7 September 2007

PN: HSSPS 10/07


The Health Committee yesterday pledged its full support for Mrs Charlotte Caldwell in her efforts to get urgent treatment for her son Billy, who suffers from intractable epilepsy. Mrs Caldwell is due to travel to the United States this week-end with her son for assessment and hopefully surgery that is not available in Northern Ireland.

Chairperson of the Committee, Iris Robinson MP, said: “I have met with the Minister, Mr McGimpsey, on a couple of occasions to try to get urgent treatment for her son and I arranged for Mrs Caldwell to brief the Health Committee. In the Committee meeting I attacked the Minister for the way the whole issue had been handled. I also met with the Minister afterwards to try and resolve all the outstanding issues surrounding the case.”

In a strongly worded letter to the Minister, Mrs Robinson said on behalf of the Committee: “Members considered the implications of your offer to Mrs Caldwell, that if she cancelled her visit to Chicago for investigation and treatment, that Billy would be assessed in Great Ormond Street Hospital in the first instance and, if treatment was not possible there but available elsewhere, the Department would pay for this treatment overseas. Members expressed deep anger and concern that this eleventh hour intervention put Mrs Caldwell in an unbearable and intolerable position, particularly when it had taken the Caldwell family eleven months to make the arrangements and no definite date could be given for a referral to Great Ormond Street Hospital. Members felt that this was much too little and too late.”

Note to Editor:

Committee Membership:
Mrs Iris Robinson MP (DUP) (Chairperson); Ms Michelle O’Neill (SF) (Deputy Chairperson); Mr Thomas Buchanan (DUP); Rev Dr Robert Coulter (UUP); Dr Kieran Deeny (IHC); Mr Alex Easton (DUP); Mr Tommy Gallagher (SDLP); Mrs Carmel Hanna (SDLP); Mr John McCallister (UUP); Ms Carál Ní Chuilín (SF); Ms Sue Ramsey (SF)

The Clerk to the Committee is Mr Hugh Farren, Room 412, Parliament Buildings, Stormont, Belfast BT4 3XX.
Tel No: 028 90521360 Fax No: 028 90521667

Northern Ireland Assembly Information Office, Room B2, Parliament Buildings, Belfast BT4 3XX.
Tel No: 02890-521137/521396. Fax: 02890 521961.
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