The processing of medical cards at a national level, rather than at a local level as before mid-2011, ensures that all people are assessed in a uniform, consistent and fair manner when applying for a medical card, irrespective of where they reside in Ireland. While the medical card scheme was always operated under the legislation and the published guidelines, the same rule set is applied to everyone in the same way, including the application of discretion in a consistent manner.
The previous non-centralised approach gave rise to the application of a non-standard approach when the element of discretion was used in the decision to grant a medical card. The different treatment of cases depending on their geographical location is an undesirable administrative practice and contrary to fair or sound administration. I am satisfied that the processes in place are appropriate to the governing health legislation and supportive while also respectful of the particular circumstances of each case.