The Government recently announced a comprehensive package of healthcare supports for to the 209 women diagnosed with cervical cancer since 2008 and for whom cytology review recommendations following clinical audit differed from the original test, and their families, including those of the 17 women within the group and who are known to have died.
These supports will also be provided to women who may be identified by the International Clinical Expert Review Panel as having been diagnosed with cervical cancer since 2008 and for whom cytology review recommendations following clinical audit also differ from the original test.
I have requested the HSE to immediately establish a central function which will be tasked with leading the delivery of this suite of supports, which includes the provision of discretionary medical cards. The centralised function will also serve as a contact point to facilitate women and their families to avail of the supports to be provided. This will be combined with dedicated local supports and arrangements to enable women and their families to discuss their needs and be facilitated in accessing services locally without delay and with the minimum of administrative process.
Separately, it is important to note that the HSE’s National Medical Card Unit has implemented a number of new measures to ensure that the assessment of all medical card applications are processed in a more compassionate and efficient manner. These measures include the development of a burden of illness questionnaire which is now being rolled out in selective circumstances where the assessing doctor in the National Medical Card Unit requires a more comprehensive assessment of an applicant's medical and social circumstances and any resulting undue financial hardship.
In addition, in January this year, the new streamlined online medical card application system was launched. This enables applicants to find out immediately if they are eligible for a medical card and will bring considerable benefits for people in turnaround times, convenience and security.
Implementation of these measures will aid the National Medical Card Unit in providing an enhanced service to applicants, ensuring that the application process is as efficient and timely as possible.