More than 5,000 still waiting for medical card return
MAJOR problems in the medical card system remain, despite promises that the majority of the 15,000 people who lost discretionary card in the last two years would get them back by today.
Laverne McGuinness, deputy head of the HSE, inset, expects to have 10,000 discretionary cards that were removed between July 2011 and May this year restored by today and the remainder at the end of next week.
"The HSE is currently analysing its databases to identify these people and intends to have the bulk of the cards issued by mid-July," she told the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children.
The cards are being returned for a year and an expert panel will report in the autumn, setting out the conditions which will automatically qualify.
However, TDs who are members of the committee said they are still encountering major problems when applying for cards on behalf of constituents.
Tipperary South TD Seamus Healy said he has one case where an application was made on February 19 but was not finalised until the end of June.
"It is absolutely frustrating. People are currently registering information in the system and it is a fortnight behind time. Applications dealt with by medical practitioners are a nightmare. The application goes into a queue and will not come out for a month," he said.
In response, John Hennessy, HSE director of primary care, said the HSE was looking at setting up "local contact points" for information on medical cards locally and was talking to local authorities about "providing support and assistance".