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Dublin: 6 °C Sunday 20 October, 2019
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This eight-year-old's cancer fight has led to a big change for other children

Children and young adults under 18 will be automatically granted medical cards.

Image: dollyfightscancer.wordpress.com

Updated 3.24pm

CHILDREN AND YOUNG ADULTS with cancer will now be automatically issued with medical cards from today.

It follows the mother of an eight-year-old girl with cancer went public with details of her daughter’s diagnosis earlier this year after the HSE refused to grant a medical card.

Angela O’Connor described it as a “basic right” to cover costs such as medication, GP visits, and other expenses such as wigs.

The decision was confirmed yesterday by the HSE, who have already faced calls to implement it ‘sensitively’.

Minister for Primary Care Kathleen Lynch welcomed the announcement. She noted that medical cards will be issued “when a diagnosis of cancer is made for a period of 5 years”.

“Any child under the age of 18 who has had a diagnosis in the past 5 years will also be awarded a medical card for five years,” she continued.

It is in line with the more compassionate approach that we have adopted towards awarding discretionary medical cards.  I support it and look forward to the HSE implementing it in an efficient and sensitive manner.

In a joint statement this afternoon, CEO of the Jack & Jill Children’s Foundation Jonathan Irwin and Jack and Jill Nurses called for a widening of the scheme.

“Why stop there? Why not grant an automatic medical card to all the children who really need it?”, it read.

Underneath all of this disability are precious children who do better at home medically, emotionally, socially and it makes sense financially and morally for the State to support their families in this hard station. Yet, today we still have the parents of palliative children forced to reapply for medical cards and filling in long winded forms when all of this should be automatic and made as easy as possible for them.

“Setting one group of sick children apart from others is wrong.”

Today also marks the first day of free GP for the under sixes.

More than 79,000 children and some 2,000 GPs (84%) have signed up for the scheme so far.

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar described it as “the first tangible step towards universal health care”.

The second step comes in early August with the inclusion of people aged 70 or older. This will make a real difference to the youngest and oldest people in society.

Read: People without medical cards are avoiding doctors like the plague >

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Nicky Ryan

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