Free under-six care will see GPs 'swamped'
FAMILY doctors will be "overwhelmed" with an extra 750,000 patient visits a year if free care is introduced for the under-sixes, according to a new study.
A group of doctors, led by Dublin GP Dr William Behan, looked at data from from six general practices and found under-sixes whose parents pay for their care attend an average of two times a year.
However, this rises to five times a year for under-sixes in families with a GP-visit card, who get free consultations.
There were 1,931 children aged under six attending the practices, and 1,277 of these were private, 583 had a medical card and 71 had a GP-visit card, the study in the Irish Medical Journal revealed.
The consultation rate for other children who had free care because of a family medical card was also high, at around 4.91 visits a year.
The authors acknowledged the possible bias in the sample and pointed out the results of the research were considerably higher than that reported in much larger studies .
However, it had the advantage of being based on documented clinical activity as opposed to recollection by patients or parents.