Monday 19 August 2019

Cost of extending free GP care next year still unknown


(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

The Government plan to extend free GP care to children aged seven to eight from next year still has to be costed.

The Department of Health was unable to say how many children would benefit from the proposed measure.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said that the "Government intends to extend GP care without fees to all children aged between six and 12 years on a phased basis, starting in 2020".

"Legislative changes will be required to give effect to this extension.

"Costings are not currently available as the proposal is subject to further policy development and negotiation in relation to the contractual aspects of this service," the spokeswoman said.

GPs who are currently signing up for a new deal, which is worth around €210m to general practice, agreed in principle to extend free GP to older children but this is subject to talks.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar signalled earlier this week that free GP care, already given to children under six, would be extended to six and seven year olds next year.

A spokeswoman for the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) said the agreement states it will have over four years beginning in quarter three 2020.

Since the agreement was signed earlier this year, there has been "no further discussion around the expansion of eligibility with the IMO", the spokeswoman added.

Irish Independent

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