Saturday 24 March 2018

GPs called to reject free care for under-sixes

Health Minister Leo Varadkar

David Kearns

Doctors have been asked to reject the Government’s plan to give free GP care to under-sixes.

The National Association of General Practitioners has called on GPs to not comply with the scheme, saying that it is unfair to older children with chronic and life threatening conditions.

“Our problem with the scheme is that a seven-year-old who has cancer being unable to get a medical card, while a perfectly healthy six-year-old would be entitled,” said NAGP boss Chris Goodey.

Speaking on RTE’s This Week, he said that: “The starting point should not be the age of a child but rather their need. No child with a chronic or life-threatening disease should be denied a medical card.”

“With hundreds of patients on trolleys in our emergency departments every day, it is morally reprehensible to invest scarce funds into providing free care to those that do not have a genuine medical need,” he added.

Read More: Six years trying to get a medical card for Sophie

In an email sent to the country’s 2,300 GPs this morning, the NAGP they had an “ethical and moral responsibility” to prevent the introduction of the scheme, believing that it interferes with guidelines from the Medical Council which state that doctors have a “duty to ensure efficient use of resources and their allocation.”

“In the interest of our patients and our duty as doctors, we have been left with no alternative but to recommend on a point of principle that GPs refuse to sign any contract providing free care to under-sixes,” the statement said.

The association is asking Health Minister Leo Varadkar to postpone the introduction of the scheme until more serious issues within the health service are  resolved.

“We need to end the county’s two-tier health system that benefits the wealthier. In our capital, a north-side Dubliner will die seven years earlier than his south-side neighbour and yet the south side has one GP for every 1,600 people while the north side has one GP for every 3,000.”

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