The Chair of the GP committee of the Irish Medical Organisation, has said he believes the HSE has the capacity to allow GPs to restore medical cards to those who lost them before a Government review into the system was stopped.

The HSE had indicated that it would not be immediately possible to restore the thousands of cards taken away before the review was suspended.

However, speaking on RTÉ's This Week, Dr Ray Walley, said the HSE had previously said that GPs could be allowed through a computer system to reinstate eligibility in an emergency situation.

He said he saw no reason why this mechanism could not operate, because these were emergency cases of discretionary cards given on health needs.

Dr Walley said it would be an equitable and fair way of applying the same logic as is done to existing cards.

He said that while there had been much attention on the medical card issue, there were many people who could not afford prescription charges and who were not taking their tablets.

He said there were also many elderly people who did not have access to public health nurses and other parts of the health service after losing their medical cards.

Dr Walley said there needed to be a debate in regard to the provision of care on medical needs.