Fianna Fáil TD and Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), John McGuinness, has welcomed the fact the HSE will intervene to speed up the processing of medical card applications.
At a meeting of the PAC this week, Deputy McGuinness called on the HSE to act swiftly in addressing the huge delays some applicants are faced with when applying for medical cards.
“I called on the HSE to send a senior officer to look at the process used in applying for medical cards. I am pleased that the HSE has since confirmed they will act on this advice, an official will now assess the application process and address the issue.
“This will be a timely intervention because the delays being experienced by thousands of people is totally unacceptable. The HSE has stated the senior official will report back to the committee with the findings in a matter of weeks.”
The issue was also raised by Fianna Fáil in the Dáil on Thursday and with the Chief Executive of the HSE at the Public Accounts Committee meeting.
“I have received hundreds of correspondence and phone calls from concerned constituents in Carlow and Kilkenny about delays of months to medical card applications and renewals. I know from talking to colleagues in Fianna Fáil and other parties that this is not unique. There is a very serious problem and it is not being addressed.
“The Minister for Health, with great fanfare, announced that he was ‘taking control’ of the health service. I want to know if the Minister is satisfied with the medical card processing delays and if not, what exactly he is doing to address this issue.
“People have told me they believe these delays are a money saving exercise and the processing of applications is being deliberately dragged out. It is appalling to hear stories of seriously ill patients being prevented for months in attaining a medical card, these patients need to concentrate fully on their treatment rather than having to worry about whether they can afford their treatment.
TDs are now being limited in the number of enquiries they can submit at any one time on medical cards to the centralised applications office.
“We need to see more flexibility from the HSE, if there is a shortage of staff or delays in one area, more staff need to be redeployed to deal with the overflow. We are again witnessing front line services being adversely affected by Government cuts so we need to see the HSE and the Department of Health get their thinking caps on to resolve the worrying delays thousands of people are experiencing.”