HSE to reissue medical cards to Magdalene survivors

RTE News
July 14, 2015

The name of the redress act was printed on the special medical cards

The Health Service Executive has been asked to reissue special medical cards to former residents of Magdalene Laundries and other institutions.

The existing card identifies the holder as qualifying for health services under the Redress for Women Resident in Certain Institutions Act 2015.

Minister for Primary Care, Social Care and Mental Health Kathleen Lynch said she has asked the HSE to make the change, after concerns were expressed that the cards in their current format unnecessarily identified the women, by including the name of the Act on the card.

Ms Lynch said it was never intended to cause any offence or embarrassment and the cards will be reissued in a more anonymised format.

Speaking in the Dáil, Independent TD Clare Daly said the medical cards were “branded” and described the layout as a breach of privacy.

Ms Lynch said if she had seen the card before it was issued, it "would never have went out" and that she was open to changing the title.

She said the cards need to be identified, but acknowledged the means in which it has been done is not appropriate.

She said she did not think current cardholders would have to return them, but new cards would be issued.

She said the HSE's National Director for Primary Care John Hennessy will meet the relevant stakeholders to address the design. 

She also confirmed that €20 million had been paid out to women who were in Magdelene Laundries to date.

In a statement, Justice for Magdalenes Research (JFMR) said copies of the Guide to Health Services under the Redress for Women Resident in Certain Institutions Act given to the group by survivors show that the services outlined replicated the ordinary medical card, of which 90% of survivors already have.

It said survivors are concerned that the RWRCI Cards identify them as Magdalene survivors and described the issuing of the cards as a "serious betrayal of survivors' trust".



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