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Minister and HSE failing medical card patients – Ó Caoláin

1 February, 2008

Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has called on Health Minister Mary Harney to call an urgent meeting with HSE Chief Executive Brendan Drumm in light of the report which shows that eligible people are being wrongly denied medical cards because of the manner in which the review system is being misused by the HSE. He was commenting on the new study to be published in the Irish Medical Journal.

Deputy Ó Caoláin stated:

"According to the new report people who are entitled to the medical card are being wrongly removed from the medical card list by the HSE. In some cases people are being removed even before their review dates. This is an outrage and it warrants action from the Health Minister. She should call an urgent meeting with HSE Chief Brendan Drumm to address this matter and ensure that all who are entitled to medical cards are receiving them and to halt any such draconian approach by the HSE.

"This blow to medical card patients comes after the Government in its Budget failed to increase the income eligibility threshold for the medical card, thus causing hardship to many families. They have also allowed a situation to develop where there is a worsening shortage of GPs, with medical card patients in particular facing further delays and inconvenience in accessing primary care. Despite all the rhetoric from the Minister and the HSE about the centrality of primary care, the system is struggling to cope and this is having the knock-on effect of more people having to attend overcrowded hospital A&E departments."

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