Low GP take-up can be addressed by extension of GP care to all - Ó Caoláin
Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has called on the Minister for Health to address the issue of universal free access to GP care for the entire population given that many areas across the country have very low GP take up of the new scheme for children under six.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
“We must remember that the present Government promised universal access to free GP care for the whole population by 2016. A WHO report from 2012 recognised that Ireland was the only EU country that did not offer universal coverage of primary care. We must not forget that the latest scheme is but a small step on the road to the levels of access that are accepted as basic across Europe.
“The present Government has clearly failed to ensure that the majority of the population, those that currently do not have access to medical cards or GP visit cards, will have free GP care extended to them by the target deadline. The extension of free GP care to the under sixes can only be viewed as an interim and hopefully a very short-term measure. The Minister must commit to the earliest possible roll out to the rest of the population which we believe would lead to greater GP take-up of the current scheme across the country.
“We know that 94 per cent of GPs have signed up in Donegal while just 8 per cent have signed up in South Tipperary. What is the Minister proposing to do to ensure that families don’t have to travel massive distances to access free GP care?
“I understand that only 1,407 GPs had signed up to the scheme on Friday, making up just 58 per cent of the 2,415 family doctors who already have medical card contracts. With the scheme to start from July 1st the Minister must act with appropriate urgency.”