Fianna Fáil TD for Cork North West, Aindrias Moynihan has said that cancer patients are incredibly disappointed at the outcome of a HSE review into the provision of automatic medical cards following a cancer diagnosis.

Deputy Moynihan was commenting after receiving a reply to a Parliamentary Question he asked Minister for Health, Simon Harris about proposals to automatically award medical cards to people who receive a cancer diagnosis.

“At present, medical cards are automatically awarded to children and adolescents under the age of 18 who are given a cancer diagnosis. There was a genuine expectation among cancer patients, and support organisations, that following this review, this would be extended to all those who receive a cancer diagnosis.

“What I don’t understand is one of the recommendations from the Report of the Expert Panel on Medical Need for Medical Card Eligibility (Sep 2014) which stated that ‘it is neither feasible nor desirable to list medical conditions in priority order for Medical Card eligibility.’

“If this is the case, why has it been done for the under 18s with a cancer diagnosis which I believe was the correct decision?

“This has come out of the blue, and has knocked many cancer patients and their families for six. I honestly believe that a cancer diagnosis should bypass the normal means test criteria for the awarding of a medical card.

“A cancer diagnosis can rock a person to the core; they may end up giving up work; it can put a strain on relationships. The last thing they need is to get into a bureaucratic debate with officials in the HSE about their means, and fight for a medical card.

“When this review was established, it was assumed that it was being done to put in place a framework to allow for this change in policy. Minister Harris needs to intervene on this matter. A directive from the Government should be given to ensure that all patients who receive a cancer diagnosis are awarded a medical card.

“A cancer diagnosis can lead to considerable additional costs in addition to the physical and emotional health challenges. Therefore more discretion must be applied to ensure that cancer patients, who are under significant duress already, can get a medical card,” concluded Moynihan.