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Dublin: 4 °C Monday 18 November, 2019
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Three year campaign results in 33,000 children with disabilities getting full medical cards

Children who receive the Domiciliary Care Allowance are now eligible for a full medical card.

We are going home, putting the banner away and getting back to normal.

THOSE ARE THE words of Peter Fitzpatrick, one of the founding members of Our Children’s Health – a voluntary campaign that has fought for three years for automatic medical cards for all children diagnosed with a serious illness.

In 2014, due to the falling numbers of discretionary medical cards being awarded, the group was launched.

They began demonstrating outside Government Buildings with a 20 foot banner, pledging to be there every day until the situation was resolved.

At the time, Taoiseach Enda Kenny met the group and told the campaigners that he planned to do something about it, telling them: “This isn’t the Ireland we all know.”

The group called on the government to amend the Health Act of 1970 so that any child diagnosed with a serious illness or congenital condition is automatically entitled to a full medical card.

In five days, over 50,000 people had signed their petition.

Today, after a three-year struggle and hundreds of days protesting, the group reached their end goal.

medical cards Source: Sam Boal

Minister for Health Simon Harris together with Minister of State for Disabilities Finian McGrath today announced the opening of the registration for a medical cards for all children in respect of whom the Domiciliary Care Allowance is paid.

This will benefit approximately 9,800 children who do not currently qualify for a medical card.

“It’s just such a huge relief to have reached this point. It means there won’t be a question mark anymore over 33,000 children who have severe disabilities in Ireland that now have healthcare as an automatic right. We always thought that should be automatic. There shouldn’t have been a question mark – that question mark has been taken away,” said Fitzpatrick.

The changes to the law also mean families will not have the burden of regular reviews by the HSE, whereby they were asked to provide documentation and proof of their child’s condition upon review of the card.

“All the reviews added huge stress on to parents… that is all done away with now, you have the card for 16 years – no questions asked, it is exactly what we were looking for at the start,” said Fitzpatrick.

While there had been a delay in delivering the scheme, Fitzpatrick said he was relieved today has finally arrived.

Speaking about the delay he said there wasn’t enough funding put aside for the roll-out.

“They put aside €10 million – it was estimated to cost €17 to €20 million, so they couldn’t discharge it till June – but we are here now and it has happened in the end.

medical cards 221_90510332 Minister for Health Simon Harris TD and Minister of State for Disabilities Finian McGrath. Source: Sam Boal

Harris urged all parents and guardians of eligible children who do not currently hold a medical card or GP visit card to avail of the registration process early, either online at www.medicalcard.ie or by paper application form so that medical cards can be certified for use from 1 June.

“This is a significant day for the parents and guardians of children with disabilities. I have met many people during my tenure as Minister of State for Disabilities and I am acutely aware of the daily struggles that they face. Provision of these medical cards will go some way to help to alleviate the stress and anxiety of parents and guardians who are dealing with the medical costs associated with a child’s disability,” said McGrath.

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