GPs to deliver more care for patients with long-term illness
More medical card patients who suffer from long-term conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease or pulmonary disease will be able to attend their GP rather than a hospital under new plans.
Talks are near completion between the Department of Health and the Irish Medical Organisation on new packages which would see GPs opt to see more patients with chronic diseases in return for a higher fee.
It is part of a €120m deal which would also see the cuts in medical card and other State fees imposed in the recession reversed on a phased basis. It is understood that the extra workload will be optional and it is a matter for individual GPs - many of whom are already under huge strain due to patient overload - to sign up or not.
The parties also agreed the proposal to extend free GP care to older children can be put on the table at a later date, but this will be subject to a new round of talks.
The long-running talks are aimed at supporting GPs, a number of whom have closed their lists to new patients, and also move more care from expensive hospitals to GP surgeries.
The cuts in fees may be reversed over three years.