Written answers

Wednesday, 8 March 2023

Department of Finance

Primary Medical Certificates

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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93. To ask the Minister for Finance when a new Medical Appeal Board will be appointed to assess appeals in relation to primary medical certificates for purchasers of cars; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11986/23]

Photo of Michael McGrathMichael McGrath (Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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The Disabled Drivers & Disabled Passengers Scheme provides relief from VRT and VAT on an adapted car, as well as an exemption from motor tax and an annual fuel grant.

The Scheme is open to severely and permanently disabled persons who also meet the below medical criteria, as a driver or as a passenger and also to certain organisations. In order to qualify for relief, the applicant must hold a Primary Medical Certificate issued by the relevant Senior Area Medical Officer (SAMO) or a Board Medical Certificate issued by the Disabled Driver Medical Board of Appeal. Certain other qualifying criteria apply in relation to the vehicle, in particular that it must be specially constructed or adapted for use by the applicant.

To qualify for a Primary Medical Certificate an applicant must be permanently and severely disabled, and satisfy at least one of the following medical criteria, in order to obtain a Primary Medical Certificate:

- be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both legs;

- be wholly without the use of one leg and almost wholly without the use of the other leg such that the applicant is severely restricted as to movement of the lower limbs;

- be without both hands or without both arms;

- be without one or both legs;

- be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both hands or arms and wholly or almost wholly without the use of one leg;

- have the medical condition of dwarfism and have serious difficulties of movement of the lower limbs.

In the event that a PMC is not granted by the relevant Principal Medical Officer an appeal may be made to the independent Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal (DDMBA).

The Minister has no role in relation to the granting or refusal of PMCs and the HSE and the Medical Board of Appeal must be independent in their clinical determinations.

As the Deputy is aware the previous members of the DDMBA resigned effective from 30thNovember 2021. Since then two Expression of Interest campaigns have been held, seeking suitable candidates for the Board. The Department of Health has led on all actions and tasks with respect to the Expression of Interest Campaigns. Department of Finance officials have provided support to the Department of Health in this matter.

The first campaign closed on 29th April. As there were insufficient suitable candidates arising from the first campaign, a second round was issued with a closing date of 5th July 2022. Five members are legislatively required for a functional Board with a quorum of three needed for any appeal hearing. Two other candidates were recently nominated by the Minister for Health. All five candidates have now successfully completed Garda Vetting.

I had hoped that I could finalise these appointments and recommence the work of DDMBA in the next few weeks. However, the National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH) has recently indicated that it wishes to cease its involvement with the scheme, and as its facilities and secretarial service, which are funded by my Department, are integral to the operation of the DDMBA, it may take time to put in place feasible and appropriate alternative arrangements to enable the appeals process to re-commence. You should note that both I and my officials are actively looking into this matter.

You should be aware that assessments for the primary medical certificate, by the HSE, are continuing to take place. In this regard, an important point to make is that even though there has been no appeal mechanism since the previous Board resigned, applicants who have been deemed not to have met one of the six eligibility criteria required for a PMC are entitled to request another PMC assessment six months after an unsuccessful PMC assessment.


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