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Saturday 25 February 2017

'Runny-nosed kids' clog up free under-six clinics, warn doctors

Parents facing postcode lottery for visits to GPs

Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Almost a fifth of GPs are still charging parents fees of around €50 for a consultation. Getty Images
Almost a fifth of GPs are still charging parents fees of around €50 for a consultation. Getty Images

Parents are facing a 'postcode lottery' as they try to avail of free GP care for children aged under six - with as many as one in five family doctors refusing to sign up to the service.

And GPs are claiming parents are abusing the service, bringing in children with very minor complaints.

One doctor told a survey of his colleagues, seen by the Irish Independent: "Every minor snotty nose is now brought to the doctor to collect a prescription for antibiotics."

A study of the impact of the free GP card generated mostly negative comments, with doctors saying they were "too busy" and now had "less time with sick patients". Another GP said the waiting room was a "crèche" and a doctor dubbed it the "after-six card" as working parents bring their child to after-hours co-ops because the cost is covered.

New figures reveal some parents have difficulty in finding a GP who will accept the under-six medical cards. In Dún Laoghaire, Dublin, nearly half of GPs are not participating in the scheme.

One mother told the Irish Independent how she had to apply to seven GPs before she finally found one willing to sign up her child.

Almost a fifth of GPs are still charging parents fees of around €50 for a consultation.

Irish Independent

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