File photograph of the Mater Private hospital in Dublin city centre. Alamy Stock Photo
The question of the right to pay with cash is in the political spotlight.
THE MATER PRIVATE has defended the card-only policy in its restaurant, which is used by many elderly visitors and patients to its central Dublin hospital.
The question of cash is in the political spotlight as the government prepares to legislate to protect its use in certain settings, with pharmacies and shops selling groceries understood to be the most likely businesses targeted.
Celine Clark of Age Action, the advocacy group for older people, said: “You should not need digital skills to buy a cup of tea in a hospital.”
“The whole premise of us being able to ‘tap and pay’ relies on using apps to control your finances. [Otherwise] how do you then check your balance, how do know the transaction was what you agreed to? The majority of people over the age of 60 have below average digital skills or are not online at all.”
The Mater Private is a centre for cardiac and cancer care, among other services, for patients with private health insurance and for public patients under the National Treatment Purchase Fund.
The hospital told The Journal the restaurant on Eccles St stopped accepting cash during the pandemic and it has retained the policy “to mitigate the risk of outside infection”, adding that “patient safety [is] the number one priority”.
It said the policy was “well received” and was “actively communicated by signage displayed at the till”.
When The Journal visited the hospital last week, before this statement was issued, no signage about cash could be seen at the till. The clientele of the restaurant, apart from those wearing staff lanyards, was almost entirely older people.
The cafe in the nearby public Mater hospital accepts cash.
Clark, of Age Action, said older people’s autonomy was eroded when they could not pay for things themselves, and people could be socially excluded from certain activities as a result.
In the Mater Private restaurant last week, several older customers could be seen having hot drinks and food purchased for them by people they were with, although it was not clear that this was due to the requirement for card payment.
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