Fianna Fáil TD for Kildare North Frank O’Rourke has called on the Minister for Health Simon Harris to direct the HSE to make changes to the application process for medical cards.

Deputy O’Rourke made the comments after raising the issue in the Dáil with Minister of State Jim Daly. He pointed out that the current application process is mired with difficulties and is a painful experience for those already suffering with serious medical conditions.

Deputy O’Rourke said, “The reality for people who are suffering from cancer or chronic and long-term illness is extremely difficult. These people have a lot of things going on in their lives; they are trying to deal with their illness and trying to live life while dealing with other issues outside of their control. The painful process of making an application for a medical card is absolutely horrific. It is adding serious unnecessary hardship to an already extremely stressful situation.

“The HSE insists that there is an emergency application process for those suffering with serious illnesses but in reality this process isn’t working. The process is slow and cumbersome and fraught with unnecessary hurdles. It should be made easier for people who are suffering from cancer or chronic and other long-term illness to access a medical card without going through this horrific process.

“The Programme for Government commits to a humane approach to discretionary medical cards for patients undergoing cancer treatment. The guidelines used to award discretionary cards for patients undergoing cancer treatment must be more lenient. It’s deeply unsettling for a cancer patient to receive a letter bluntly informing them that they application has been denied. These people are going through a serious trauma in their lives and deserve support from the State.

“The Government needs to review the medical card application process for patients with cancer, terminal illness or chronic conditions. The current approach clearly isn’t working.”