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Public information campaign launched to address 'confusion' over medical cards

The HSE has launched a public information campaign following recent controversies over medical card eligibility.

THE HSE HAS launched a public information campaign to combat the “lack of clarity”, “misinformation”, and “confusion” around eligibility for medical cards.

Helplines will be open longer, there will be additional information on its website, and the HSE is promising greater sensitivity in letters it distributes to people whose medical card eligibility is being reviewed.

The HSE said today that its lo-call helpline will now be open between 8am and 8pm. The helpline has dealt with around 477,000 calls over the past 12 months, which works out at around 12,000 calls per week.

Sixty per cent of calls concern the status of applications. The HSE promises a 15-day turnaround of application forms.

A public information campaign, which €150,000 is being spent on, will see leaflets distributed to hospitals and health centres across the country while there will be a number of print advertisements in national newspapers from tomorrow.

The HSE is also promising greater engagement with advocacy groups such as Age Action, Down Syndrome Ireland and the Irish Cancer Society.

The Executive has also been working with the National Adult Literacy Association (NALA) in order to simplify application forms as well to be more sensitive in the use of language in letters where eligibility is up for review and to ensure there is less “bureaucratic speak”.

A nine-minute video on the HSE website promises to offer viewers a step-by-step guide to filling out their forms.

The HSE’s director of primary care, John Hennessy, acknowledged that there are concerns among people about the status of their medical cards and whether or not they are eligible for one.

He said the aim of the campaign is to alleviate those concerns.

Hennessy added: “We’ve acknowledged that there’s an issue in relation to the renewal of cards… The key message is, on a lot of levels and a lot of fronts, we’re taking action and we are seeing the start of that this week.

Read: Vigil at children’s hospital to highlight medical card removal

Read: Facing call to resign, Taoiseach says medical card issues ‘will all be sorted out’

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Hugh O'Connell

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