Calls for the reinstatement of a local medical card office were made during last month’s County Council Meeting which was held in Abbeyshrule.
The calls came on the back of a notice of motion by Cllr John Browne (FG) who said that the online system was not working, and the need for a local office was never more necessary.
Two years ago the Government centralised the medical card system in Finglas and removed local input. As a direct result many people are still waiting for their cards in a system that has become totally backlogged and near to impossible to make contact with. The Longford town representative subsequently received unanimous support for his motion. “There needs to be a local office where people can walk in, get the help that they need and have the matter sorted,” added Cllr Browne. “The online system is working very badly in relation to this.”
Cllr Tom Victory (FF) gave his full support to Cllr Browne’s motion, citing that the whole situation was a “complete mess”. “The situation is ridiculous and the fact that some elderly people have had their medical cards taken off them is ludicrous,” he added. “The situation is hitting the vulnerable, just so that money can be saved; centralising the medical card system was not a good idea.”
Meanwhile, Cllr Martin Mulleady (FF) laid the blame for the cock-up entirely at the Minister for Health, James Reilly’s door. “I think that the Minister is not doing his job,” Cllr Mulleady fumed. “He knew what the health system was like and he should never have made promises that he could not keep. As far as I am concerned James Reilly is a jumped up minister who was a doctor himself - that is my opinion.”
The cost of medical cards to the Exchequer was then addressed and Cllr Gerry Brady (FG) pointed out that they were a luxury the country could no longer afford. “The reality is the country can’t afford medical cards any more,” he said, adding that not even ‘discretionary cards’ should have been approved in the first instance. “As the fella says, if you give something you can’t take it back, but all of this was fine in the good times - not now. There is no money in this country; the budget increases every year and no money can be saved, so the whole thing is a disaster. We will never see again Longford in control of medical cards and it will now have to be funded in a whole different way. The Minister for Health is really in a no win situation.”