Medical card delays ‘disgrace’

THE protracted delays in the processing of medical card applications continues to cause concern as thousands wait for their cards to be issued.

THE protracted delays in the processing of medical card applications continues to cause concern as thousands wait for their cards to be issued.

This week, calls were made for the immediate redeployment of civil servants to speed up the processing of medical card applications and for Ministers to intervene before the crisis escalates further by one local representative.

Describing the delays as a “disgrace”, Fianna Fail TD, Barry Cowen said he was updated with calls from people from across county Offaly, who are extremely worried about the ongoing delays. “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.”

Deputy Cowen claimed the matter is getting very little attention from the Government and appealed to the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton and Minister for Health James Reilly to intervene before the crisis escalates further.

Meanwhile, Fine Gael TD, Charlie Flanagan said the delays was down to logistical problems at the HSE Central Medical Card Unit in Finglas. Deputy Flanagan was responding to comments attributed to Deputy Brian Stanley, who claimed the Government was trying to restrict the amount of medical cards being granted each year.

He stated, “The very idea that the Government is trying to restrict the entitlements of people to a medical card is quite ludicrous. The CEO of the HSE Mr Cathal Magee informed the Public Accounts Committee last week that 100,000 extra medical cards will be provided to people this year.

“This is in addition to 85,000 extra medical cards that were issued last year. I think these figures alone contradict Deputy Stanley’s accusations. I will continue to impress on Minister Reilly and the HSE the need for quicker turnaround times with regard to the processing of medical card applications.”

Following the criticism of the system at the Public Accounts committee last week, the HSE has agreed to assign a member of its senior management team to review the operation of the centralised office in Finglas in order to address the current defects in the service.