herald

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Magdalene survivors' anger at medical card 'breach of privacy'

HSE card 'Redress for Women Resident in Certain Institutions Act 2015'
HSE card 'Redress for Women Resident in Certain Institutions Act 2015'

MAGDALENE Laundries survivors have hit out at the HSE for breaching their privacy on new medical cards issued to them.

The cards arrived this week, clearly marked with the words "Redress for Women Resident in Certain Institutions Act 2015".

Mary Smith, a survivor who has campaigned for redress for women who were sent to the laundries, has said the cards amount to a continuation of the abuse she and others suffered.

"It's just more abuse for us to be labelled again," she told the Herald.

"If I was released from prison, would my medical card read 'criminal'?" she asked.

"We are not accepting this. It's outrageous and appalling. Everyone affected is fuming."

Ms Smith has contacted the HSE to complain about the wording on the card.

"It's just more injustice for us," she said. "They've added further insult to injury."

Legislation was published by the Department of Justice following recommendations from Judge Quirke, which provided for medical cards to be issued to women to cover a range of health services.

feedback

In a statement, the HSE said it would discuss the feedback received on the cards with the Department of Health and the Department of Justice.

A spokesperson for the HSE did not respond when asked by the Herald if the inclusion of the details of the scheme constituted a breach of privacy.

The wording was in place to distinguish the cards from the medical card scheme, the statement said.

Minister of State Kathleen Lynch has asked the HSE to reissue cards to former residents of the Magdalene Laundries and other institutions.

"It was never intended to cause any offence or embarrassment by referring to the act on the card," she said.

"However, I accept that by putting the full title of the act on the card it identifies the holders in a way that is unnecessary."

Ms Lynch said she was happy to change the title if that is what the women involved wanted as it would require only a "small effort".

People affected have been asked to contact the HSE if they have concerns about the cards.

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