'I can't afford medicines the doctor recommends'
Arthritis sufferer John Ross (57) lost his discretionary GP-visit card two years ago after he was told he was over the income threshold.
"It galled me. I don't know what they are talking about because I have not had a pay increase in five years," said John, an electrician, who is maintenance manager with Smartply Europe.
Dad-of-three John is from Moate in Co Westmeath but he has to rent accommodation in Waterford for his job, adding more financial strain.
The GP-visit card allowed him free visits to his doctor but he was still liable to pay for any medications he needed for his illness.
"The arthritis is in part of my right and left hand. I can be painful. It flares up now and again for no particular reason. I am not on any medication now because I worry about side-effects and it is also cheaper. I take cod liver oil and use a cream, which is quite effective."
He said in the past two years it was more severe and when he had the GP-visit card it allowed him the freedom to visit his GP when needed.
"The GP card disappeared and we never heard another word about it. I think we were in the frontline when it came to removing the cards."
If his arthritis is particularly bad it requires a visit to the GP to get a sick note but he said "that is rare enough".
He said the doctor recommends that he take several medications.
"But I can't afford that. I am cagey about what I take but I would probably take them if they were free.
"It all seems very strange. I had the GP-visit card when my wife was working. Then she was let go and we lost it. That does not make much sense to me."