Response from Jonathan Irwin, CEO and Founder of the Jack & Jill Children’s Foundation to medical cards debate in Leinster House on 14th November

The families of the 300 children around the country supported by the Jack & Jill Children’s Foundation are being put through torture on medical cards, endless form filling, reviews, rejection letters and stress.

And here we have the HSE in Leinster House today repeating their well crafted holding statement on medical cards that there has been no policy change and quoting 30 year old legislation that says the financial status, rather than medical need, is what delivers a medical card in Ireland.

So let’s change the legislation. It’s wrong. Especially for children with life limiting conditions who should be given their medical card in their own right, based on their own medical need, rather than means testing their parents.

What can’t be disputed is the sea change in the implementation of discretionary medical cards and the HSE know it, because it is HSE HQ that is the change maker, by centralising the system of medical cards and making it much more difficult for parents applying on behalf of their child with a life limiting condition.

For these worn out parents, it’s torture in slow motion, in the guise of HSE form filling, endless reviews, rejection and appeals.

And for those who secure the medical card, which is effectively their child’s passport to the basic care plan, the torture continues as Mum and Dad lose more sleep, worrying endlessly about the next application, the next review, the next rejection letter. That’s where most of our families are at today.

What we need in this debate is accountability and leadership, rather than waffle and blame and hiding behind outdated legislation, as witnessed in Leinster House today.

How many more families must pedal their story to the Irish media before we change the system and issue medical cards, based on medical needs? For the children under our care that should be an automatic right. Asking families to pose for photos and to explain their child’s medical card nightmare is a step too far for many and families are afraid that talking out now will make their next medical card review even more difficult.

I am again calling on the Taoiseach to step in and fix the HSE’s broken medical card system, before any Free GP cards for under 5s are initiated. Nobody wants this “freebie” at the expense of a child who needs their medical card.


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