RTE 1.35 – “Citizens of Ireland will be able to access and receive basic medical services in this country in the coming years” article The Government has announced that the first of these changes will be made by July 1st, 2019, when the Department of Health will begin offering the Health Service Executive’s (HSE) Citizens of Ireland card to people aged over 65.
This card entitles Citizens of Irish descent to a range of basic health services in the United Kingdom, including free medical examinations, dental and vision tests, mental health assessment and a range to the NHS.
A new health service in Ireland will also be established within the next few months, with a focus on the needs of the Irish Traveller community in the south.
It is hoped that this will help ease the burden of chronic diseases and provide an additional source of income for the community, but there are also some fears that this new system will be a model for further privatisation of the health service.
One of the main concerns is that the card could be used to cover all health care costs in Ireland, but critics have suggested that this could have the unintended consequence of reducing the value of services provided by private providers.
In addition to providing healthcare, the Citizens of the Traveller Community in the South will also receive a range in services including housing and health.
The Government has been criticised for its plans to cut the number of Traveller homes it manages in order to save money, as well as its plans for the future to reduce the numbers of Travellers in hospitals.
However, many are hoping that the new system can be an example of the Government’s efforts to address the issues of racial and economic inequality.
“It’s important to remember that the Travellers and their communities have been the subject of a lot of trauma in recent years,” says Paul O’Brien, Chief Executive of the Community Healthcare Alliance.
“They have been victims of a very divisive government, but they are a people who have been very vocal about their concerns and their concerns are very important.”
“We know that there is a very strong demand for a care and social services system that’s built on a shared sense of responsibility, which is very different from a government that’s not interested in that at all.”
In this year’s RTE programme, Paul also spoke about the impact that a new health system in Ireland could have on the community.
He said that the Government was taking a “hard look” at the future for the Travelling community in order “to provide a new way of thinking and a new framework for social inclusion and inclusion in our society”.
“The Government must recognise that Travellers, who are one of the fastest growing communities in the country, will not be able in this new society to live in a way that is a sustainable one.
We need to do something to ensure that they are given the services they need and that they’re able to make the best use of the facilities that we have available to them.”
This year’s programme will be broadcast on Thursday, March 11th at 9.00pm on RTE One.
Image Credit: RTE.ie