Hospital vigil held in protest at removal of medical cards

Protest organised by parents opposed to removal of medical cards from their children

It emerged this week that the Health Service Executive is forecasting an end-of-year deficit of €105 million on direct services

It emerged this week that the Health Service Executive is forecasting an end-of-year deficit of €105 million on direct services

 

A vigil was held outside Crumlin Children’s Hospital today in protest against recent Government cuts to the availability of medical cards.

In pouring rain the crowd shouted that they wanted medical cards “now” while waving placards which read “keep your budget out of our kids healthcare” and “re-issue medical cards for our sick”.

It emerged this week that the Health Service Executive is forecasting an end-of-year deficit of €105 million on direct services, including a shortfall of €75 million on hospital spending and €25 million on primary care reimbursement services, including medical cards.

Lydia Clery - who has been a prominent voice of opposition to medical card cuts after her daughter Erin’s was replaced with a GP visit only card - was amongst the protesters at today’s vigil.

Mrs Clery said that when she heard the news from her husband Jason it “absolutely floored” her.

“That particular day Erin was very bad,” she said. “She was very weak in the bed and I hadn’t slept, I was worried about her”.

“It was horrible,” said Mrs Clery, who is also expecting another child in two week’s time.

She also spoke of her relief that Erin’s medical card has since been reinstated but added that many other parent’s still find themselves in circumstances similar to those she was in.

“I (don’t)want other mothers going through what I went through,” she said. “There’s so many other’s like me...that are absolutely devastated that their medical cards have been taken of them”.

Eight-year-old Erin has a rare condition involving three chromosome disorders and also suffers from both epilepsy and bowel problems. She is required to take 47 syringes of medication daily and a box of her epilepsy tablets costs €70.

“If Erin’s medical card was taken off her and it wasn’t brought back I wouldn’t be able to leave the hospital without her,” she said. “My home help would be stopped, her wheelchair (and) all her equipment would be gone”.

Amanda Bennett, who organised today’s protest, said she decided to take action not only for Erin but also for other children in the same situation.

As a pharmacy technician she said that she knows the “price of medication” and has seen both children and parents fight extremely hard for medical cards.

“If they’re that sick they shouldn’t have to be fighting for a medical card,” she said. “It should be automatically given to them”.

Also in attendance was Joan Collins, independent TD for Dublin South Central, who said that Mrs Clery’s stance against the medical card cuts was “phenomenal”.

“This state has a lot to answer for in relation to how they are treating their most vulnerable people,” she said. “They’ve targeted people in this budget who are not organised (and) who can’t get organised very easily”.

“I think the biggest response was the pensioners and I hope this Government takes note because they will feel the wrath of the people over the next couple of months,” she said.