Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Questions (943)

Michael Moynihan

Question:

943. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Health when primary medical certificate applications will begin to be processed; if steps are being taken to address the backlog of applications to be processed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11892/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Scheme is underpinned by statute and comes under the remit of the Department of Finance and the Revenue Commissioners.

The extent of the involvement of Health Service Executive (HSE) personnel in the Scheme relates to making a professional clinical determination as to whether an individual applicant meets the specified medical criteria for a Primary Medical Certificate, which is a requirement for the Scheme. This determination is undertaken by Community Medical Doctors for the relevant HSE Community Health Organisation on behalf of the Department of Finance and the Revenue Commissioners.

The Deputy may be aware that following a Supreme Court decision of June 2020, the assessment process for Primary Medical Certificates was suspended at the request of the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe T.D.. Following the approval of the Finance Act 2020 which provides for the medical criteria in primary legislation, the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, T.D., issued an instruction to the Chief Executive Officer of the HSE to the effect that Primary Medical Certificate assessments can recommence with effect from 1st January, 2021.

In the context of the national effort to suppress and manage the impact of COVID, the ability to hold assessments is impacted by, among other things, the public health restrictions in place and the role of the HSE Medical Officers in the roll out of the COVID vaccination programme. The HSE has confirmed that the Community Medical Doctors and their teams are predominately deployed to the COVID vaccination rollout in residential care facilities and other health care settings.

I have been informed that the HSE is considering the matter of Primary Medical Certificate assessments in the context of their revision of the HSE Recovery and Restoration Plan, taking into account the pressures and challenges to the health services presented by COVID.