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) Community Medical Doctors in the Scheme relates to making a 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.
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 HSE to recommence assessments from 1st January, 2021.
The ability to hold assessments has been impacted by, among other things, the public health restrictions in place to suppress and manage the spread of COVID-19. Unfortunately there are delays in the processing of assessments due to the involvement of the HSE Medical Doctors in the national COVID-19 response, which I know are causing undue strain on applicants.
I recently met again with the HSE to discuss the issues around the delay in accessing Primary Medical Certificate assessments. The HSE has confirmed that the assessment process has recommenced and it is continuing to monitor the situation in the context of resuming the range of services that are provided by Community Medical Doctors under the HSE Service Recovery and Restoration Plan, taking into account the pressures and challenges to the health services presented by COVID.
As the query raised by the Deputy relates to service matters, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the HSE for consideration and direct reply to the Deputy.