Two in three private patients delaying GP visits due to cost
At least two-thirds of people who do not have medical cards delay going to see their GP or consultant because of the cost involved, a new survey has found.
A similar number of patients also complained about facing long waiting times to receive treatment after a diagnosis.
The survey, carried out by Adelaide Health Foundation and the Department of Public Health and Primary Care at Trinity College Dublin, found that 63 pc of people who have to pay to see a GP and 68 pc who have to pay to see a consultant put off visits because of the cost involved.
Read More: 50pc of adults don't know they are suffering from 'silent killer'
Meanwhile, in the public hospital system, 71 pc of patients faced long waiting times to see a consultant, while 52 pc faced long waiting times to get treatment after a diagnosis.
Not surprisingly, the study also recorded that one in four patients believe the way chronic diseases are managed by the Irish health service needs to be completely overhauled.
“Chronic disease management is the litmus test for how our health service is performing,” said Dr Catherine Darker, lead author of the research.
"Ireland now stands out as one of only two countries in Europe that do not have universal access to general practice primary care services - a commitment set out in the 2011 Programme for Government.”
“We cannot be regarded as a caring, mature society until access to high quality healthcare is based on need and not means.”
Read More: Fianna Fáil shows true colours with policy that will prolong two-tier healthcare system
Dr Darker said that the majority of public patients reported that their biggest issue was long waiting times to see consultants and receive treatment after diagnosis, while private patients listed paying for medicine and other 'out-of-pocket' expenses as their chief concern.
Adding: “In Ireland, 2.7 pc of the health budget is spent on general practice, while in other health systems with strong primary care this figure is closer to six to ten pc.”
“Our healthcare system is still focused on reacting to acute illnesses and emergency events. Instead we need to adopt a more proactive approach based on promoting health and preventing disease.”
Read More: GP leader defends €666,622 medical card pay
“The high prevalence of chronic disease in Ireland indicates a failure of prevention. It costs the patients in terms of their quality of life, it costs the taxpayer in terms of increased healthcare costs, decreased productivity and hampered economic development, and it costs society in terms of missing out on the contribution of the skills and talents of its entire people."
The ‘Patients' Perspective - A Survey of Chronic Disease Management in Ireland’ study surveyed a total of 517 people.
Of these, 52 pc were public patients, 45 pc private patients - three per cent declined to indicate their status.