Pledge on long-term free GP care stalled
The Government's promise to give free GP care to people on the Long-term Illness Scheme remains stalled, despite promises to have it in place more than two years ago.
The legislation to underpin the move had not been published despite repeated claims that it is "imminent".
In an election pledge, more than 40,000 people with long-term illnesses were promised free GP care at the end of 2010 and it was expected to be in place by March of 2011.
However, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health said yesterday that while substantial progress had been made in drafting the legislation it "has not been as swift as was hoped and the legislation is not yet complete".
She said the legislation would be published "when it is completed and the implementation dates and application details will be announced after the legislation is in place".
The delay comes after comments by Junior Health Minister Alex White who appeared to cast doubt on meeting the Government's pledge to introduce free GP care for the entire population on a phased basis "within its first term of office".
The Department of Health insisted the extension of free GP care to all remains its objective but no costings have been provided so far.