Asylum seekers and refugees in Donegal are being forced to call ambulances as they have no access to a GP.
The claim was made by Deputy Thomas Pringle who blames delays in assigning PPS numbers for leaving them without access to essential services.
He addressed Minister Roderic O’Gorman on the issue in the Dáil today.
“For example, in Ballybofey, the asylum seekers that have been housed there have no GP services available to them because they have no PPS numbers,” he said.
“They were moved to Donegal without having PPS numbers applied for, which means that they are using the hospital services and ambulance service because there’s no doctors available to them. And that’s a shocking situation for them to be in.”
Deputy Pringle believes there are similar issues with Ukrainian refugees in Buncrana and Carndonagh.
The Independent TD added this is leading to misunderstandings among local communities.
“And, very quickly, what you end up with then is word going out to the community, ‘oh the people are getting better access.’
“It’s because they have no access that they have to use this (ambulances and hospitals).”
He said there are also instances where school transport services are not meeting the new needs.
“We’ve had a case in Killybegs recently where somebody had to pay for the school transport to get Ukrainian kids to school,” he added.
The deputy had asked the minister what supports are being given to his department from other government departments to provide for the urgent housing needs for Ukrainian and international protection refugees.
In his response, the minister detailed the work of other government departments and groups in relation to accommodation.
The deputy addressed the minister during oral parliamentary questions to the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.
“I understand that there will be pressures because the situation is unprecedented, but there are pressures for people trying to live as well in the areas,” Deputy Pringle said.
“I don’t think anybody should end up in an area who don’t have a PPS number. Surely, with computerisation, PPS numbers can be issued reasonably quickly. I got a response back from the HSE saying that they expect it could take months before PPS numbers will be given to these people, which means it will take months before they can apply for a medical card and then when they apply for a medical card it will take months before that medical card is granted.”
In response, Minister O’Gorman said he would see what could be done to expedite the process.