Remaining Medical Card Backlog Must be Tackled25th April 2012
I have called on the Government to ensure that the remaining backlog of applications for medical cards are processed as a matter of urgency. While some strides have been made in tackling this backlog since January, there are still in excess of 5,000 applications awaiting consideration.
Further to a parliamentary question that I laid down last week, it has been confirmed to me by Minister of State at the Department of Health, Roisin Shortall T.D, that the medical card backlog now stands at 5,400 applications. While this is figure is a considerable improvement from the number of applications that were outstanding last year the Government still needs to maintain the momentum and ensure that these cases are examined and processed as a matter of urgency.
Behind this figure there are a large number of individuals and families in desperate need of their medical card. We are talking about people who may be battling a serious illness and who are under severe financial pressure. The delay in processing medical cards adds further strain at a hugely difficult time.
When medical cards were centralised I queried the logic of such with the Government and petitioned against the loss of the huge knowledge with regards to the application procedure as a result of stopping local offices processing these applications. The reality is that the old system for processing medical cards was far superior, it was simpler, easier to access and much easier to find information on the status of an application. Additionally these local offices were aware of difficult circumstances for applicants and would do all in their power to assist in these applications and ensure that applications were advanced as speedily as possible.
The centralisation of this service has caused problems, problems that as of yet have not been fully sorted out. It is now essential that the Government now ensure that the remainder of this backlog is sorted and that this office is adequately staffed with fully trained members and is fully resourced in examining these applications. Never again can we have a situation whereby distressed applicants are waiting in excess of 8 months for a decision on their medical cards.