His statement comes after a number of GPs complained about patients presenting with valid medical cards only to learn, when their eligibility is checked on the HSE system, that their card is in fact invalid.
Commenting on Twitter, Mr O’Brien stated, “I don’t doubt there is an issue to be addressed”. He later tweeted, “happy to look at systemic implications of individual cases”.
GPs have been highlighting the issue for years. In the past, the HSE has explained that the outcome of an eligibility review assessment or failure to engage meaningfully in the eligibility review process can result in a patient losing entitlement to services before their card’s expiry date.
Mr O’Brien made his remarks in response to a series of tweets by Ashbourne GP Dr Stephen Murphy.
Dr Murphy outlined his experiences in a tweet: “Another night on call. Another night when a patient has a DVC [doctor visit card] that has a review date in eight months but the card is expired on HSE system. HSE-expecting GPs to work for less but better if GPs work for free.”
“How is it possible one may ask that a med card patient could be given a plastic credit type card allowing them free GP medical care (complete with a date for the card review) and yet that card can be (almost routinely) cancelled without any notification before that date?” Dr Murphy outlined in another tweet.
The tweet generated much discussion among GPs who are regularly experiencing similar problems.
In response to Mr O’Brien’s request for more information, Dr Murphy tweeted, “Happy to oblige if this is necessary. But with respect, it seems very odd that a whole division of HSE – the PCRS – who deal with this daily on a national level – does not have this information readily available for you.”