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Minister Shortall in denial over medical card delays – Ó Caoláin

9 January, 2012 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín O Caoláin TD has said Minister of State for Primary Care Roisín Shortall is in denial over the extent and impact of delays in medical card applications and renewals.

He said:

“Minister Shortall and the Department of Health are in denial about medical card delays. I wrote directly to Minister Shortall on this issue over the Christmas period when it was brought to my attention by constituents. The problem has now become so acute that some 100 GPs in the North East region have withdrawn from primary care teams in protest at the long delays in medical card processing, particularly for people applying to renew their medical cards. Just one example highlighted in the media today was a woman waiting four months for a renewal.

“People are being denied free medical treatment to which they are entitled because of these delays. This is causing widespread hardship. Yet Minister Shortall and the Department refuse to recognise the extent and impact of the problem while people are facing delays of months in medical card renewals.

“Minister Shortall needs to take control of this situation. If additional staff are required in the centralised medical card processing centre in Finglas then they should be transferred straight away from elsewhere in the HSE administration. The centralisation of all medical card processing needs to be reviewed urgently to determine whether the removal of this work from local offices is contributing to delays - for example making it more difficult for people who may have submitted incomplete applications.” ENDS

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