Three medical cards were posted to a rented house in Letterkenny last week - a year after the family had vacated the premises. The three foreign nationals named on the cards, two of them children, are understood to have returned to their country of origin, prompting the owner of the house to lash out yesterday at a system which he claims is open to widespread abuse.
“It seems that you don’t even need any form of identification to get one of these cards. I just can’t believe that those involved in the medical card section of the H.S.E. would post these out and not get the people to call for them with a passport or a driving licence or whatever.
“I’ve no problem with the people themselves but the system has to be wrong when medical cards can be sent out like this and there are others in genuine need who can’t get them. The whole system is open to abuse,” said the property owner who didn’t want to be named.
He had called to his house over two weeks ago and discovered a letter which referred to a “recent application/review” for a medical card/G.P. visit.
The letter, from the Medical Card Section of the H.S.E. in Ballybofey, went on: “On the basis of the information supplied I am pleased to inform you that the following persons have been awarded for full eligibility for medical card services.”
The letter named the people involved and indicated the cards would be issued shortly. It added that the letter should be retained as evidence of entitlement and the applicant should notify the office of any changes in circumstances.
Revealed the householder: “Three medical cards duly arrived last week attached to a piece of headed paper. I believe the male adult in the family is still living in Letterkenny and got his medical card separately but his wife or partner has gone back to their homeland with their two children.
“This is an invaluable bit of paper. In some ways it’s as good as a credit card. People could be using these medical cards to get medication and then selling it on. It’s annoys me that the system is so open to such potential abuse.”
Local councillor Dessie Larkin said he fully shared the concerns of the householder on the issue of medical cards.
“The fact that these three medical cards were sent out and could be taken up by anybody who isn’t entitled to them certainly begs a few answers. Surely they should have to be collected rather than posted out.
“I have people coming to me who find it particularly hard to get to such benefits as a medical card but here we have three of them sent out to people who aren’t even there.
A spokesperson for the H.S.E. said all applicants for medical cards were means tested and would receive them if entitled.
She confirmed that the matter raised this week would be investigated if the landlord in question got in contact with the local health office.