Sunday 4 December 2016

Leo the minister enjoys a triumph while the GPs get rich - and poor

GPs picked the wrong battle with the under-sixes, says Maurice Gueret. Instead, they should have seized the IMO chains of office

Maurice Gueret

Published 21/06/2015 | 02:30

Oscar Power, age 4 from Macken Street, Dublin pictured with Minister Leo Varadkar at the launch of the online registration system for the new Free GP Care for Children Under 6 service which will commerce on July 1st. held in St. Andrews Resource Centre, Pearse Street, Dublin. go to www.gpvisitcard.ie. Pic. Robbie Reynolds
Oscar Power, age 4 from Macken Street, Dublin pictured with Minister Leo Varadkar at the launch of the online registration system for the new Free GP Care for Children Under 6 service which will commerce on July 1st. held in St. Andrews Resource Centre, Pearse Street, Dublin. go to www.gpvisitcard.ie. Pic. Robbie Reynolds

It has been a good week for families with very young children or juniors on the way. Doctor visits will no longer cost the same as a family ticket to the zoo. From the first of next month all surgery visits will be free of charge for all kids under the age of six. And that subtle exotic aroma of a freshly filled nappy will return to a waiting room near you.

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I am quite sure the bulk of our nation's GPs will have signed up to the Under 6 contract by the end of June, even in south Tipperary. They have to, or they will no longer have family practices in the true sense of the word. If you lose all young couples and their toddlers, you really lose viability in the long run. The scheme pays doctors the equivalent of three private visits a year per child and there are two weigh-ins thrown in for a bit of extra neurosis. Despite cries to the contrary, there will be no wolf in the surgery and it's not the end of the world for doctors.

One eminent professor of general practice was ecstatic. He tweeted that Dr Varadkar's achievement in getting the deal through put Noel Browne's Mother and Child Scheme in the shade. But the academic was rounded upon by some colleagues for this comment. You see, patients don't always die when doctors differ. Other medics suggested that the serious crash of the Under 6s computer system within hours of launch from overuse was a metaphor for what might happen in GP waiting rooms next winter.

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