Over the last number of months, I have been pursuing the issue of the suspension of Primary Medical Certificates and I was relieved to be told by the Minister for Finance on 16th November that the HSE had been directed to recommence processing of these applications.
See the full discussion here: https://youtu.be/w4hos1FpGjI
However, the following day after I brought it to the attention of the Minister that the HSE was still not processing applications he clarified he previous comments by stating that the processing of certs would only happen from 1st January 2021.
From the 17th November, when the Minister confirmed that applications would not be processed until 2021, I have sought to have the processing of applications brought forward from 1st January because it was clear to me that it would be caught up with a projected rise in Covid infection in the New Year. See here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TkQOX8MG1vk
Sadly, this did not happen.
As you will now see from the HSE reply that I have just received the processing of Primary Medical Certs is now dependent on the scale of staffing resources tied down with the management of Covid infection & the vaccination programme.
In the meantime 37 people a week, who should have a primary medical cert, will be added to the waiting list of 1,500 more who should have received their primary medical cert in 2020!
And here is the previous Dáil reply referenced in the HSE correspondence:
Wednesday, 13 January 2021
Department of Health
Primary Medical Certificates
All Written Answers on 13 Jan 2021
Denis Naughten (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
- To ask the Minister for Health the steps that will be taken to ensure the HSE has the capacity to process primary medical certificates from 1 January 2020; the outcome of the meeting on 9 December 2020 between the Minister of State with responsibility for Disability at his Department and the Department of Justice and the Secretary General; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1783/21]
Anne Rabbitte (Galway East, Fianna Fail)
The Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Scheme comes under the remit of the Department of Finance and the Revenue Commissioners. The extent of the involvement of Health Service Executive (HSE) personnel in the Scheme relates to making a professional clinical determination as to whether an individual applicant meets the specified medical criteria for a Primary Medical Certificate. This determination is undertaken by Senior Medical Officers for the relevant HSE Community Health Organisation on behalf of the Department of Finance and the Revenue Commissioners.
The Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, Anne Rabbitte TD, met with the Secretary General of the Department of Health on 9 December 2020 to discuss a number of issues, including Primary Medical Certificates. Minister Rabbitte discussed the backlog that has built up due to the temporary suspension of the assessments earlier this year.
The Deputy will be aware that following a Supreme Court decision of June 2020, the assessment process for Primary Medical Certificates was suspended at the request of the Minister for Finance. In order to allow for the Primary Medical Certificate assessments to recommence, the Minister for Finance brought forward amendments to the Finance Bill to provide for the existing medical criteria in primary legislation.
On foot of a request from the Minister for Finance, my colleague, the Minister for Health, issued an instruction to the Chief Executive Officer of the HSE on 22nd December, 2020, to the effect that Primary Medical Certificate assessments can recommence with effect from 1st January, 2021.
As the assessment process for Primary Medical Certificates is a service matter, I have referred this element of the Deputy’s question to the HSE for consideration and direct reply to the Deputy.