Thursday 8 December 2016

Parents face regional lottery in free GP plan

Published 17/06/2015 | 02:30

Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar and Isabelle Heapes (3) from Macken Street at the launch of the online registration system for the new Free GP Care for Children Under 6 at St. Andrew's Resource Centre, Pearse Street, Dublin.
Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar and Isabelle Heapes (3) from Macken Street at the launch of the online registration system for the new Free GP Care for Children Under 6 at St. Andrew's Resource Centre, Pearse Street, Dublin.

Parents trying to register their child for free GP visits continued to face a regional lottery yesterday, despite another 80 doctors signing up for the scheme.

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The HSE reported 1,574 GPs had signed by up by yesterday - but there was little movement in some of the counties where doctors have shown the most resistance so far.

More that 17,000 of the 270,000 children who are to get the free visits for the first time have been registered in the past two days.

Around 65pc of doctors are registered so far for the scheme which begins in July and entitles all under-sixes to free GP visits.

Doctors in South Tipperary, West Cork, Dublin South East, Kildare and West Wicklow and Cork North Lee continue to display most reluctance to join.

The HSE, which saw its website crash on Monday morning, as thousands of parents logged on to sign up with a GP, revealed that a technical issue meant a number of people had sight of the details of one of the families which had registered.

A spokeswoman said: "A technical issue arose last evening in the on-line registration system that resulted in shutting the system for a number of hours overnight.

"Prior to this, a very small number of people had sight of some data relating to one other individual's application.

"This matter has been reported to the Data Protection Commissioner as is normal practice in such situations."

The matter was rectified and the system was up and running normally since 7am yesterday morning, said the HSE.

Take-up

No county has yet 100pc of GPs signed up to the scheme but the highest take-up is still in Donegal, Sligo/Leitrim, Roscommon, Galway, Dublin West, Wexford and Carlow/Kilkenny.

Parents can log on to www.gpvisitcard.ie to sign up their children with a GP from a panel of doctors who have joined the scheme.

If they are accepted by the doctor they will be issued with a GP visit card.

Health officials are working on a back-up plan for areas where families with children under six live but no nearby GP has signed up.

The child, as an alternative, could be issued with a discretionary GP visit card, providing for free visits, which is outside of the new scheme.

Many GPs insist they will not be able to cope with the increasing workload which the scheme will generate. They say the increased demands from the under-sixes during normal surgery hours and in the evenings will impact on the same-day service they can give to other patients.

Irish Independent

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