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Emergency medical cards

There are some emergency situations where we can help you outside of the normal medical card application process.

We will give you a medical card as a matter of urgency if you:

  • have a terminal illness and you are receiving end of life treatment
  • need urgent ongoing care and need a temporary medical card

Application process

Your healthcare professional will apply on your behalf. This is usually a social worker, hospital consultant or GP.

They will send us a detailed medical report and a completed application form.

This medical report should provide your patient information including:

  • diagnosis
  • disease staging (where available)
  • planned treatment
  • prognosis (outlook)

One of our medical officers will then look at your case straight away. Medical officers are HSE medical doctors.

If you have a terminal illness and you are receiving end of life treatment

We will give you a medical card immediately if you have a terminal illness and you are receiving end of life treatment. End of life treatment means a prognosis of less than 12 months to live.

We will never review your card and your card will never expire.

The steps

  1. A health professional will send us a medical report and a completed application form.
  2. We will issue you with a medical card number - it will be active on the system within 24 hours of us reviewing your case.
  3. You will receive your card in the post within 10 days.

If you need urgent ongoing care and need a medical card

You may need urgent ongoing care and need a medical card sooner than the normal processing time. If you do, we can give you a temporary medical card for 6 months.

You will still need to apply for a standard means-tested medical card before your temporary card expires within 6 months. We will write to you to remind you to do this.

The steps

  1. A health professional will send us a medical report and a completed application form.
  2. We will issue you with a medical card number - it will be active on the system within 24 hours of reviewing your case.
  3. You will receive your card in the post within 10 days.
  4. You apply for a standard means-tested medical card before your temporary card expires within 6 months.

When you will get your card

Once approved, your medical card number will be active within 24 hours.

Your GP, pharmacy and hospital staff will see your card is active on their systems. This means you can still access medical card services while you are waiting for your card in the post.

page last reviewed: 25/10/2019
next review due: 25/10/2022