TDs asked to ensure Magdalene women get healthcare card
Group says judge’s recommendation on HAA card not included in Bill coming before Dáil
The provision of a Health Amendment Act (HAA) 1996 Card was recommended by Mr Justice John Quirke, who prepared a compensation scheme for the Magdalene women. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times.
Oireachtas members have been called on to ensure that the Government amends a redress Bill to give Magdalene survivors a healthcare package.
The provision of a Health Amendment Act (HAA) 1996 Card was recommended by Mr Justice John Quirke, who prepared a compensation scheme for the women.
The card, previously provided to people infected with Hepatitis C as a result of the administration of contaminated blood, gives holders access on a statutory basis to a wide range of primary care and hospital based services.
In a letter sent to all TDs and Senators in advance of Thursday’s Dáil debate on the Redress for Women Resident in Certain Institutions Bill 2014, Justice for Magdalenes Research said “these women believed the Taoiseach’s apology in 2013”.
“Their average age is 70. Judge Quirke found that 66 per cent suffer from serious health problems. They have signed waivers, agreeing not to sue the State, on the promise that the government would implement the Quirke report in full,” the letter said.
They continued that “the draft legislation falls far short of the HAA card. Statements by the Department of Justice that the women will receive an ‘enhanced medical card’ do not change this fact.”
The HAA card was “Judge Quirke’s No.1 recommendation” they said. He said “Magdalen (stet) women should have access to the full range of services currently enjoyed by holders of the Health (Amendment) Act 1996 Card (“the HAA card”).
“As an integral part of the ex gratia Scheme a card entitling its holder to health services equivalent to those provided to the holder of a HAA card should be given to each of the women who were admitted to and worked in a designated Magdalen laundry.”
JFM Research pointed out that “HAA cardholders may visit any GP of their choice, including private GPs. They may see a dentist – including private dentists – at any time for any necessary treatment. They are entitled to ophthalmic services at any time, and to priority hospital ophthalmic care. They are given unlimited aural services and referrals to ear, nose and throat specialists must be facilitated within two weeks.
“Under the Bill, none of these enhanced benefits will be provided to the women. They will be restricted to medical card GP, dental, ophthalmic and aural services.”
It was also the case that “HAA cardholders are entitled to any necessary medicines, high tech drugs, aids and appliances, without limit.The Bill limits the Magdalene women to the medical card Reimbursement List.”
According to the Bill “ Magdalene women may only receive counselling themselves, pursuant to a GP’s referral, and only in respect of their time in a Magdalene Laundry, ” they said.
HAA cardholders were “entitled to massage-based therapies, manipulation-based therapies and hydrotherapy provided by chartered physiotherapists or registered nurses; reflexology by registered chiropodists; and acupuncture by GPs.None of these services will be provided to Magdalene women under the Bill.”
It was also “unclear whether dedicated Liaison Officers will be provided to the Magdalene women in the same way as under the HAA card scheme.”
Thay appealed to the politicians to “amend this legislation to provide for the appointment of representatives and independent advocates for women lacking capacity. These women are elderly and still have no access to the Magdalene scheme. They cannot afford to wait any longer.”