Thursday 22 March 2018

Fresh delay to free GP care for under-sixes

Leo Varadkar
Leo Varadkar
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

The long-awaited introduction of free GP care for children under six – originally promised this month – will not happen until the end of the year at the earliest.

Free GP visits for the over-70s and primary school children will also come into effect next year. But it will be 2016, likely to be election year, before it is extended to secondary school children.

The schedule agreed by Cabinet was outlined yesterday by Health Minister Leo Varadkar and Tanaiste Joan Burton who were on home turf, officially opening the new €2m acute medical assessment unit and MRI facility in their local Connolly Hospital in Dublin.

Mr Varadkar said he wants to have secured an agreement with GPs, covering a new contract, before free visits for under-sixes are rolled out.

"I want to do it in co-operation with GPs. I don't want a situation where they feel overwhelmed or under-resourced," he added.

"It is important to take a few months to get it right."

He also reiterated that he will wait for an expert group to report on proposals to give medical cards based on medical illnesses in the autumn.

But he suggested it may look beyond giving cards to recommended automatic entitlement to various services.

Irish Independent

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