Fianna Fáil TD for Niamh Smyth says cancer patients are struggling to pay for expensive treatments and medication without any help from the State.

Deputy Smyth has called for more flexibility in the discretionary medical card scheme to cover the cost for patients who may be paying hundreds of euro a week to access essential treatments.

“I have a number of constituents who are deeply frustrated by the current system.  I have one woman who is paying €1,000 a week for treatment and has been refused a discretionary medical card – how can this be explained?  This is a huge burden on her finances.  It is deeply upsetting and unfair and needs to be urgently addressed”, said Deputy Smyth.

“Cancer patients are only entitled to a GP visit card, and while that covers certain costs, the bulk of treatment and medication still falls to the patient.  Many cancer patients apply for a discretionary medical card but the experience of my constituents has been less than favourable.  They say they feel like there is a question mark over the severity of their illness and many have been left feeling more upset and vulnerable when their application is refused.

“A cancer diagnosis is devastating in itself.  The fact that patients are put through a painstaking process to try and access some financial help, and who may be refused a medical card at the end of that process, is deeply unfair.

“I would like to see more flexibility within the discretionary system to ensure that help is available to patients who are genuinely struggling with the cost of their healthcare”.