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File photo Niall Carson/PA
Multiple medical cards

'We just kept getting them in the post': How a family of five has 14 medical cards

A Dublin family waited a year for their medical cards to be renewed and then several came along in the space of a few weeks.

A DUBLIN-BASED family, who waited a year for their medical cards to be renewed, now have 14 between them with one of their children having four cards despite only one of them being valid.

The apparent administrative error by the HSE came after mother-of-three Sarah* applied for new medical cards for her then two children, now aged 7 and 2, and her husband.

“When we had to renew them we were waiting a couple of weeks and we were ringing the HSE and we weren’t getting anywhere,” she told

“Finally we got hold of somebody and they said there was no details there so we had to resend the documents. We kept ringing and ringing. We were probably waiting a little over a year.”

She said that when the medical cards did arrive for herself, her husband and her two children they kept arriving. She said: “We just kept getting them in the post.”

Sarah said that her husband had changed doctors, resulting in two different doctors’ names appearing on the cards.

As a result, she has three medical cards (two registered to the same doctor, and one registered to another doctor), her husband has three (two registered to the same doctor, and one registered to another doctor).

Her two-year-old son has four cards (three registered to the same doctor, and one registered to another doctor) and her seven-year-old has three (two registered to the same doctor, and one registered to another doctor).

Her youngest child, aged 12 months, has one card as she was able to obtain one by providing a birth cert and PPSN number rather than follow the application process she did for the other cards.

HSE response

Sarah said she contacted the HSE about the 14 medical cards – all of which are in date but nine of which she doesn’t need – but was told to keep them. asked the HSE for information about how and why this might have happened and asked if there are any statistics on how many cases like this might be in the system where multiple cards are issued to people.

In a response, the HSE said that when a card holder changes doctor they are issued with a new card and the old card has no value. It said that even if a card is lost and a replacement is ordered the old card is no longer valid.

Its full statement reads: “When a medical card/gp visit card holder changes their doctor of choice they are issued with a new card(s) which shows the new doctor’s number on the GMS Scheme.

“Once the new card(s) is issued the old card has no value to the National Medical Card Register. On receipt of their new medical card/gp visit card the cardholder should either destroy their old card or return it to the HSE, Primary Care Reimbursement Scheme Office.

It should be noted that there is only one registration on a Medical Card Register, the patient is registered with the correct GP and only one GP is paid e.g. if a person mislays their medical card/gp visit card, requests a new one and subsequently finds the old one, although they may physically have two card only the reissued card is the valid card.”

Sarah said that her situation is “a bit ridiculous” given the recent controversies over chronically ill people not being able to get medical cards or have their existing ones renewed.

“It’s a bit ridiculous when you are speaking to people and they say they are still waiting on their medical card and I say: ‘Really? Because I have three each!’”.

The HSE has been in contact with Sarah about the anomaly which she is keen to rectify.

* Not her real name. The identity of this person is known to but she asked not to be named. has seen all 14 medical cards.

WATCH: ‘It is a balancing act’: Reilly apologises over medical card problems

Read: Public information campaign launched to address ‘confusion’ over medical cards

Read: ‘The most vulnerable people in our society’: Dáil hears medical card horror stories

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