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Fears that families of children with serious illness could face 'rigorous' medical card means test

Our Children’s Health has welcomed yesterday’s announcements on medical card reform, but still has some outstanding concerns.

Child in hospital
Child in hospital
Image: child in hospital via Shutterstock

A GROUP CAMPAIGNING for children with life-limiting conditions to be automatically entitled to a medical card has suspended a protest they have held every week since May.

Our Children’s Health has maintained a presence outside the Department of the Taoiseach every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, but following yesterday’s announcement of reform of the medical card system they will suspend this until they receive further detail.

While welcoming the findings of the expert panel, including that the provision to grant anyone with terminal illnesses medical cards without review, the group has still expressed a number of concerns.

In a statement released this morning, the group highlighted that families may still face a ‘rigorous’ means test if a medical card is applied for following the diagnosis of serious illness.

The group said:

The existing means test is in effect a rigorous financial audit and there appears to be little or no recognition of the limited capacity of families dealing with the implications of a devastating diagnosis to gather together and submit all relevant financial documentation.

They said that diagnosis should be assessed primarily on the basis of medical need, and at least concurrent to a medical assessment.

The group has also recommended that additional input should be sought from a lead medical professional, rather than GP, and that the expiry date of cards should instead be linked with duration of the condition.

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said yesterday that the HSE will enhance the operation of the medical card process to “make it more sensitive to people’s needs”.

Read: Terminally ill patients will no longer have their medical cards reviewed >

More: Nurses ‘demoralised again’ as HSE gains 11% more senior managers in four years >

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Nicky Ryan

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