Seanad hears of NUIG student with spinal disease denied Primary Medical Cert

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The Seanad has heard of a 22-year-old NUI Galway student that was denied a primary medical certificate despite having congenital spinal stenosis, a degenerative spinal condition.

Fine Gael Senator Paudie Coffey spoke about the young woman yesterday, raising concerns about the way that the primary medical certificate is issued.

The certificate provides relief from vehicle registration tax, VRT, VAT and motor tax to people with disabilities in the provision of transport to improve their mobility.

The former Fine Gael TD for Waterford said: “It started when she was 17 years old. Already in her young life she has had three failed surgeries, two lumbar disectomies and instrumented spinal fusion on two levels. She has been left with intractable pain in both of her legs and back, resulting in significant mobility issues.

“She has been prescribed an horrendous amount of opioid medication that leaves her bedridden for most of the day and which is taking a toll on her internal organs. She was attending a degree course at the National University of Ireland, Galway, but she has been unable to return because of her spinal condition, as it brings chronic pain, there are serious mobility problems and she is on medication,” he added.

Despite this, an application was made for a primary medical certificate and she was devastated to discover that it had been refused.

The Senator said that it was her one hope she would receive some support to improve her mobility, well-being and independence by being able to drive an adapted car.

“She uses two crutches to get around the house and a wheelchair outside it.

“It is really frustrating for her and her family. I undertook to try to assist her and have written to the Minister of State with responsibility for people with disabilities, Deputy Finian McGrath. who, in fairness, has offered support, but he has also said he is restricted by the scheme in place.

“Therefore, I ask for the review of the scheme for genuine cases involving a serious disability. A review is long overdue, as the scheme was introduced in the 1980s. I am interested in hearing the Minister of State’s comments,” added Senator Coffey.