There are still 31,456 medical card applications outstanding from last year as a result of the Government’s inaction on delays and its failure to listen to concerns before centralising the application process in July, according to Councillor Andrew McGuinness.
“I hold a Clinic every Wednesday at the Constituency Office and the amount of people, many with a serious illness, experiencing huge delays with their medical card applications is simply unacceptable and frightening. People deserve to be treated better,” said Cllr McGuinness.
“Throughout the country there are still 31,456 people waiting for an answer on their medical card applications despite having applied last year. They were promised that all valid applications would be processed within 15 days. In fact, there are still 1,717 applications outstanding from last July when the centralisation process began,” he said.
“The Government has allowed a situation where there was a sudden loss of expertise in local offices, while community welfare officers were suddenly not allowed to deal with medical card applications as they have done for many years. As a result, there have been numerous accounts of applications being misplaced and lost, leading to further increases in the delays for many applicants. That is not good enough,” he continued.
“People have had to go without a medical card for months, leaving those with chronic illnesses without any support for accessing the treatment or medication they need. This has affected thousands of applicants in Kilkenny alone and I see it first hand with many of these people calling to our office for help,” he said.
He welcomed the fact that patients, still waiting will, from this week be able to go through their GPs to secure a 4-month extension on their medical cards.
“But a clear system now needs to be put in place to reimburse those who have had to fork out on medicines and treatments that they could not afford. It is unfair that they would be left to carry the burden.
“It is disappointing that the Government has taken so long to address these serious delays that resulted from their failure to listen,” he said.