Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children Charlie McConalogue has called for the immediate redeployment of civil servants to speed up the processing of medical card applications, following reports that the delays are causing problems to up to 3,000 people across Co Donegal.
The Donegal North East TD has described the situation as a disgrace, with thousands of people left unable to pay their medical expenses as they wait for their applications to be processed or cards to be renewed.
Deputy McConalogue said: “People from across Co Donegal are extremely worried about the ongoing delays in issuing and renewing medical cards. The latest estimates are that up to 3,000 people in this county alone are affected by the delays. We are now well into February, and it is totally unacceptable that so many families and individuals still don’t know when their cards will be renewed or applications processed. In the meantime, those with chronic illnesses are left unable to pay their medical bills after the HSE essentially pulled the rug from under them.
“There is a real fear now among health professionals and the public that this is part of an underhand exercise to cut costs. There are growing concerns that the delays are simply a money-saving exercise and that the processing of applications is being deliberately dragged out.
“This is a serious problem and it’s getting very little attention from the Government. Last year with great fanfare, the Minister for Health James Reilly announced that he was ‘taking control’ of the health service. Where is his control on this issue? The maximum wait for a medical card application to be processed should be 15 days. At the moment it’s looking more like 15 weeks. This has already reached crisis point for thousands of patients around the country, many of whom are seriously ill and need regular medical attention.
“If there is a shortage of staff to process medical card applications, then under the Croke Park Agreement, staff should be redeployed to speed up the process. I am appealing to the Minister for Health James Reilly to intervene before the crisis escalates further.”