Wednesday 21 March 2018

GPs defend right to charge for blood tests

Junior Health Minister Kathleen Lynch
Junior Health Minister Kathleen Lynch
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

GPs have defended their right to charge medical card holders for blood tests, despite a warning by Junior Health Minister Kathleen Lynch that it breaches their contract.

Dr Andy Jordan, chairman of the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP), said that blood tests are not covered under the medical card scheme, so it's reasonable for GPs to pass this cost on to the patient.

"The alternative is for GPs to refer the patient on to a hospital, which will take far more time, cost the State considerably more, delay diagnosis and add considerably to the stress of the already worried patient," Jordan said.

Dr Padraig McGarry of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) also said it is a mattter for each individual GP to decide whether they charge or not.

However, a substantial number of patients who made complaints have been given refunds.

Ms Kathleen Lynch said it was not acceptable and the HSE had told doctors this on a number of occasions.

Most GPs are not charging. The HSE "will arrange for a refund", she insisted.

However, she admitted there is a need for a new contract for GPs.

The matter is now part of the discussions on a new medical card contract.

Irish Independent

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