Fine Gael Seanad Spokesperson for Health, Senator Colm Burke, has today (Thursday) welcomed the most up to date figures from the HSE which show significant progress being made in clearing the backlog of issuing new medical cards and renewing existing cards.
Senator Burke went on to say that these figures indicate that the backlog in issuing medical cards is set to be cleared by the target date of the end of April 2012.
“The most recent medical card figures release by the HSE, which outline the situation up until the 14th March 2012, show that the backlog has been reduced from 57,962 in January to just 20,976. This is shows that substantial progress is being made in the processing and renewing of medical cards and that the Executive is on track to meet its target of having the backlog cleared by the end of next month.
“I welcome the fact that the medical card processing unit has made significant effort to clear the backlog. This is a welcome development which will ease the worry being experienced by those waiting for applications to be processed.
“On the 1st January 2005, there were 1,145,083 active medical cards. That figure rose to 1,736,958 by 1st March 2012, with an additional 125,317 GP visit cards also issued. This has resulted in an increase of 591,875 medical cards over this period of time; an increase of 52%.
“I am glad that this situation appears to be under control and that turnaround times and deadlines are at last being met. Medical cards offer reassurance to those who are unable to meet the cost of GP and medical costs in general. Support can now be restored in the ability of the processing unit to meet the demands placed on it.
“This Government is intent on turning our health service around and ensuring adequate delivery of service for our people. The Minister for Health, James Reilly just recently announced the elimination of restrictions on General Practitioners (GPs) who wish to obtain contracts to treat public patients under the General Medical Services (GMS) Scheme by opening up access to GMS contracts to all fully qualified and vocationally trained GPs. This will give medical card patients more choice in who treats them.
“We will continue to work towards improving primary care services and ensuring that people receive care based on their medical need, and not the money in their pocket.”