HSE clarification on medical cards for terminally ill patients welcomed by Irish Hospice Foundation

HSE clarification on medical cards for terminally ill patients welcomed by Irish Hospice Foundation
John Wall

The Irish Hospice Foundation has welcomed clarification from the HSE that patients given a medical card after a diagnosis of terminal illness will not lose it if they live longer than expected.

But the charity said the policy must be better publicised as it was not being followed in all cases.

The HSE responded following days of confusion and appeals for clarity after a father of three with incurable prostate cancer revealed his medical card was revoked twice.

John Wall, 48, applied for a non-means tested emergency medical card, issued within 24 hours in such cases, after his shock diagnosis of stage four cancer, and was initially informed it was valid for 18 months.

When it was revoked after six months and then again after a two-month extension when he appealed, he began a fruitless search for an explanation.

The HSE has since returned his card and apologised, saying the 18-month reference contained in information from the Department of Health was incorrect and had been removed from the public domain.

But it also said that anyone receiving an emergency medical card was subject to a means test after six months and anyone rejected at that point could seek a review on medical grounds.

Irish Hospice Foundation advocacy manager Angela Edghill said she had been shocked to hear this as it was contrary to the advice the foundation had been giving people.

It also contradicted a commitment by Leo Varadkar in 2014 when he was health minister that no terminally ill person would be forced to undergo a review to hold on to their card.

The HSE has now said that anyone given a terminal diagnosis, classified as a prognosis of less than a year to live, could apply for an emergency card that would not be subject to a review once the year was up.

HSE clarification on medical cards for terminally ill patients welcomed by Irish Hospice Foundation

"PCRS (Primary Care Reimbursement Service) confirm that persons who have been awarded a terminal illness card will never be subject to review for the remainder of their life, regardless of duration," it said.

Ms Edghill said she was delighted with the statement but it now had to be put into practice.

"We know from Mr Wall's case and anecdotally from other cases that people are being put under review. That must stop," she said.

"The process needs to be much clearer, the correct forms need to be made much more widely available and patients need to know their entitlements.

"This is a support that we campaigned for and one the HSE can be proud of but not if they're going to keep the rules around it impenetrable."

More on this topic

Cancer patient vows to keep fighting to end  practice of reviewing medical cards of terminally ill patientsCancer patient vows to keep fighting to end practice of reviewing medical cards of terminally ill patients

Top-earning GP received €1.1m from medical cardsTop-earning GP received €1.1m from medical cards

Campaigner Vera Twomey: Little Ava now free of pharmaCampaigner Vera Twomey: Little Ava now free of pharma

Medical cards for children in families receiving domiciliary care allowance approvedMedical cards for children in families receiving domiciliary care allowance approved

More in this Section

Contractors told they had two weeks to leave IrelandContractors told they had two weeks to leave Ireland

Man, 70s, dies after getting into difficulty swimming in Galway beachMan, 70s, dies after getting into difficulty swimming in Galway beach

Irish man dies after incident in New YorkIrish man dies after incident in New York

Portuguese fishing boat detained until €150k bond paidPortuguese fishing boat detained until €150k bond paid


Lifestyle

These green pancakes are topped with avocado, tomato and cottage cheese.How to make Jamie Oliver’s super spinach pancakes

Who else can pull off a look described as a ‘hip-hop Michelin woman’?As her new EP drops, this is why there will never be a style icon quite like Missy Elliott

The classic white-tipped look is once again in favour, and celebs are loving it.The French manicure is back – 5 modern ways to try the trend

The A-Listers hiding in plain sight: As Rihanna is spotted at the cricket, who are the celebs who have been living under our noses in Ireland? Ed Power reports.Celebs in plain sight: The A-Listers living under our noses in Ireland

More From The Irish Examiner