Tuesday 21 January 2020

Doctors may refuse to operate free GP care scheme for kids under five

Association of GPs criticise funding levels outlined by the government in last week’s Budget

Picture posed: Thinkstock
Picture posed: Thinkstock

DOCTORS have indicated that they refuse to operate the free GP care scheme for kids aged under five.

The chairman of the National Association of General Practitioners, Dr Andrew Jordan, revealed serious concerns with the funding of the scheme this morning.

Speaking on Morning Ireland on RTE Radio, Dr Jordan said the association – which had initially welcomed the government’s announcement in the Budget – was now worried about the scheme.

“We thought in good faith they were going to announce a scheme that was likely to deliver a high-end service.

“Unfortunately a figure of €37m was rolled out. Of course we realised this was just an extension of the present GMS which is not a top-end service.

“It is not a question of opting out. Any doctor can decide to take a particular contract or not to take it,” he added.

Dr Jordan also raised concerns about cuts in funding for existing medical card schemes.

“The total GP budget to take care of the sick and vulnerable is €440m,” he said. “This is quite catastrophic.”

Yesterday, the Sunday Independent reported that some GPs were claiming treatment fees for medical card holders who were dead or didn’t exist.

Dr Jordan said a death certificate is filed with the HSE when a patient dies, including an individual’s PPS number.

If doctors were claiming payment for deceased patients he said, “You’re saying the HSE is incompetent and I don’t believe for a second that the HSE is incompetent.”

“It would be incredible to think that they’re not able to cross off the medical card when they have the information in front of them,” he added.

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