GPs 'facing extra 750,000 visits' under free-care plan
FAMILY doctors will be "overwhelmed" with an extra 750,000 patient visits a year if free care is introduced for the under-sixes, according to a new study.
A group of doctors, led by Dublin GP William Behan, looked at data from from six general practices and found under-sixes whose parents pay for their care attend an average of two times a year.
However, this rises to five times a year for under-sixes in families with a GP-visit card, who get free consultations.
There were 1,931 children aged under six attending the practices, and 1,277 of these were private, 583 had a medical card and 71 had a GP-visit card, the study in the Irish Medical Journal revealed. The consultation rate for other children who had free care because of a family medical card was also high, at around 4.91 visits a year.
The authors acknowledged the possible bias in the sample and pointed out the results of the research were considerably higher than those reported in much larger studies. However, it had the advantage of being based on documented clinical activity as opposed to recollection by patients or parents.