Fianna Fáil TD for Sligo-Leitrim Eamon Scanlon has queried claims made by the Health Minister that medical cards are being processed within 15 working days.

Deputy Scanlon had called for additional staff to be allocate additional staff to the National Medical Card Unit (NMCU) to deal with delays in the system, however the Health Minister is now claiming that medical card and GP visit card applications are being processed within 15 working days.

Deputy Scanlon said, “I was shocked to receive the reply from Minister Harris which claims that the “NMCU are currently working within a 15 day turnaround for all completed applications including applicants diagnosed or undergoing treatment of a serious illness”.  Anyone who has any dealing with the HSE or the NMCU knows that this is absolutely not the case.

“My office is currently working on a number of applications, which are taking several weeks to process.  In a number of these cases, the NMCU has requested documentation, which had been already been submitted with the initial application, further delaying the process by up to two weeks.

“The families that I am working with are extremely frustrated and their entitlements are being delayed, which is placing an additional financial burden on them.  This is not an issue that is specific to the cases I am dealing with; other colleagues have complained of similar delays.

“I had asked the Health Minister to increase staffing levels within the National Medical Card Unit but he has ignored that request and is instead directing applicants to the online service.  These delays are only adding to the distress that families are experiencing and I am urging Minister Harris to reconsider his stance and to review staffing within the unit”.