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Doctor-only medical card has been "sorry saga" - Ó Caoláin

29 September, 2005


"A sorry saga" is how Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin has described the long-delayed implementation of the Government's plan for 200,000 GP-only medical cards.

He said, "There is little comfort in today's announcement that the Government is now proceeding with its plan for 200,000 doctor-only medical cards. These yellow pack cards are no substitute for the 200,000 full medical cards promised by this Government, together with an end to hospital waiting lists, by the summer of 2004.

"The reality is that the number of people receiving medical cards has dropped since this Government took office. The income guidelines for qualification have not kept pace with inflation and more and more families have suffered as a result of the prohibitive costs of GP visits, medicines and other medical expenses.

"This sorry saga has seen the yellow pack cards unveiled by the Tánaiste last autumn mired in a row with the Irish Medical Organisation over the proposed payments to their members for treating GP-only patients when they reach 70 years of age. That row has now apparently been resolved but the fact is that the Government's commitment to extend the full medical card scheme remains unfulfilled.

"These sticking plaster solutions point to the need for real reform and restructuring of our health services based on equal access for all."ENDS

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