The confusion that has dominated the issue of medical cards for cancer patients in recent days is a clear example of the chaos that reigns in the health service every day under Minister James Reilly, Fianna Fáil Seanad Leader Darragh O’Brien has said.
Senator O’Brien was commenting after the HSE denied reports that changes were being made which would see discretionary medical cards no longer provided to cancer patients, unless their illness is considered to be terminal.
Senator O’Brien said: “Today’s belated statement from the HSE highlights the dysfunction and chaos that pervades the health system under Minister Reilly. I cannot say I am surprised as it was Minister Reilly who abolished the board of the HSE and left the health service without any proper governance structure in place. Is it any wonder people are regularly asking themselves now, who is in charge of our health service?
“Any decision to change the criteria or tighten the eligibility for cancer patients to receive medical cards would threaten patient outcomes and effectively create a two-tier cancer treatment system. Enormous progress has been made with cancer care in this county over the past 20 years in detection, diagnosis and treatment. Without a medical card, many middle-income cancer patients would simply not be able to afford the care they need. Stripping them of the medial card would actually put their care path at risk and threaten patient outcomes.
“The Minister for Health needs to make a clear unambiguous statement and he needs to do it today. Is the criteria being changed or is it not. Are the rules on the discretion by which medical cards will be issued being changed or are they not? The fact that we have mixed messages and people fighting cancer in further distress because there is even a doubt of this is disgraceful and must be cleared up immediately.”