Free GP care for over seventies must be followed by universal free access – Ó Caoláin
Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has welcomed the extension of free GP care for the over 70’s, but has again stated that this measure must be followed by universal free GP access in the earliest possible timeframe and that further extension should focus on raising financial thresholds, rather than age cohorts.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
“We know that Ireland is the only EU country that does not offer universal coverage of primary care. This latest development, while it is to be welcomed, only moves us somewhat closer to GP coverage that is available as a matter of course in other countries. The present Government has failed to ensure that the majority of the population that currently do not have access to medical cards or GP visit cards have free GP care extended to them.
“Universal primary care must be extended to all in the earliest possible timeframe. It is essential that the rollout for the rest of the population is done, not based on age cohort as is being followed by the Minister at present. GP access should be extended by raising the financial threshold for qualification as this would provide more equitable access to same and should have a clear timeframe. The Minister also needs to commit to increasing the numbers of GPs training. We are already far behind comparable countries. It is critical that the Minister now indicate the timeframe and methodology for the roll out to the rest of the population.”