Minister's back-up plan for free GP visit scheme
The emergence of some blackspots across the country where a low number of GPs have signed up for the free visits for under-sixes scheme may lead to 'Plan B' being triggered, Social Care Minister Kathleen Lynch has said.
Ms Lynch would not elaborate on the back-up plan but HSE officials have already suggested giving under-sixes who are entitled to free visits from July a discretionary GP-visit card.
This would allow them to attend a local GP who has not signed up to the scheme.
GPs who have not signed the new under-sixes contract are likely to accept these young patients, who will get free visits with their discretionary card.
But the GPs will be forgoing the higher annual capitation fee they would get for these young patients if they signed up to the new deal.
The HSE said yesterday the number of participating GPs in the July scheme has now climbed to 79pc. It means that 1,911 GPs out of 2,427 will provide the free visits.
However, most GPs in south Tipperary have not joined and there are also a significant number in west Cork who have so far refused to sign up to the scheme.
If three GPs refuse to register a child the patient can be assigned to another by the HSE.