Kerry man who suffered stroke struggling to obtain Primary Medical Cert

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Tadhg EvansKerryman

Councillor Michael Foley (Fine Gael) has asked if the system around Primary Medical Certificates – a document that confirms a person as severely and permanently disabled – is broken, hitting out at the assessment and appeals process, as well as the ‘restrictive’ qualifying criteria.

Cllr Foley’s view has been partly driven by a constituent who, having suffered a stroke, did not qualify for a Primary Medical Cert (PMC) and is now struggling with the appeals process.

It comes following a question posed by Cllr Foley at the most-recent meeting of Regional Health Forum South over assessment clinics for PMCs in Kerry being put on hold. Those who hold a PMC can qualify for benefits such as tax reliefs under the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers Scheme and, potentially, fuel grants and toll exemptions.

While Cork Kerry Community Healthcare (CKCH) confirmed that these clinics have resumed in recent weeks, Cllr Foley is not convinced that the overall system isn’t broken.

“I am aware of a situation where an elderly man…suffered a stroke and his elderly wife must help him in and out of their car,” he told The Kerryman.

“He applied for a Primary Medical Certificate, which was on hold to be assessed because there were no clinics being held in Kerry.

“Unfortunately for him, when assessed, he did not make the criteria to get the Certificate. He then got an opportunity to appeal it, but unfortunately there seems to be an issue with the appeals also. My question is if the system is broken.”

There are, currently, 25 applications awaiting assessment in Kerry, and the recent hold on assessments here was caused by demands on Medical Officers’ time, such as delivering school-vaccination programmes and child-health assessment services.

According to a document seen by The Kerryman, an individual who contacted the relevant appeals board in November 2022 could not be given an appeal date as the Departments of Health and Finance needed to appoint members to this appeals board. This following the resignation of board members one year previously.

Cllr Foley was also strongly critical of the qualifying criteria.

“…there should be a comprehensive look at the qualifying criteria as it is too restrictive,” he said. “There are great advantages for the holder of a Primary Medical Certificate for either driver or passenger. Whether they have a disability from birth or through injury or illness.”