9,000 will lose their medical cards in next 4 months
NINE thousand medical card holders had their entitlements withdrawn over the past four months, new figures revealed.
And an additional 26,000 card holders were found to be ineligible, deceased or had their medical cards extended pending further examination.
It means that thousands more may lose their cards over the next few weeks if the HSE deems them to be ineligible.
Those availing of medical cards dropped from 1,701,235 to 1,694,658 between September 1 and December 1, according to the figures released by the HSE.
The HSE has come under fire in recent days after it emerged that a new centralised system for issuing and renewing medical cards has resulted in long delays for patients around the country.
Medical practitioners have also been vocal in their criticism of the centralised system.
Dr Helen O'Neill, from Dunboyne in Co Meath, conducted a survey of 11 practices in December -- which discovered that 1,516 patients had lost their medical card entitlements.
And Dr Owen Clarke, from Navan, said that 597 of his patients alone had their cards withdrawn in December.
Fianna Fail health spokesperson Billy Kelleher has claimed that a delay in issuing medical cards is having a devastating effect on families.
"Let the ones that are obvious through the system so people can continue with their treatment and their lives," he said.
"I don't think we can start blaming processes for what seems to me to be an accounting exercise that is having a devastating impact on people's lives," he added.