‘Indefinite’ daily Dáil picket over medical cards

Families with children who have severe health problems are to picket the Dáil "indefinitely" until laws are re-written to give them an automatic right to medical card help.

The call for action will be made today on the birthday of a nine-year-old girl facing a dual battle against leukaemia and HSE red-tape over the issue.

Speaking before the launch of the campaign, Kevin Shortall said his daughter, Louise, and thousands of other children are being prevented from basic help for serious conditions because of “unjust accountancy” in the system.

The father-of-three from Clondalkin in Dublin said since his daughter was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in April 2012, she has received world-class care at Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin.

However, despite immediately applying for a medical card on the advice of doctors, he and his wife, Tracey, have faced a “constant battle” with HSE officials over access to the help.

While Louise is now making progress, he said it is unacceptable families already struggling with heartbreaking situations should be put in such a position.

As a result, to mark his daughter’s birthday today the family will launch a nationwide campaign to force the Government to repeal the 1970 Health Act.

The legislation is the reason why medical cards can only be provided based on financial hardship and not on health needs.

But while it allows for discretionary medical cards for people who are over the income threshold, the Our Children’s Health campaign wants this to be changed to allow anyone with a serious medical condition to automatically receive the help.

Among the goals of the legislation repeal campaign are an online petition for the policy change; daily protests outside the Dáil every morning and lunchtime “indefinitely” until the law is changed; and wide-scale letter-writing to TDs and senators.

The campaign website, ourchildrenshealth.ie, will be launched today and contact can be made at info@ourchildrenshealth.ie.

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