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GPs charging us €65 for a consultation

GPs are now charging as much as €65 for a consultation, a new poll has found.

Meanwhile, the cheapest consultation fee charged was €30, according to a survey of GPs who are based around the country.

The poll, which was carried out recently, found that a majority of GPs (39pc) are charging €50 for a consultation.

It found that 4pc of GPs charge €65 for a general consultation, while only 2pc reported that they charge €30.

Some 7pc charge €60; 14pc charge €45; 12pc said it cost €40 and 13pc charge €55.

Three GPs said that they charge €35, while five said that their prices varied between €35 and €55. One GP declined to reveal the cost of a consultation.

The average cost of a visit was €48.30, according to the latest Irish Medical Times (IMT) GP survey, which was conducted in January this year.

Stephen McMahon of the Irish Patients' Association said: "When you look at GP fees, plus pharmacy charges, it can be a substantial hit on the weekly take-home pay."

And he pointed out that it wasn't just the consultation fee that was borne by patients -- sometimes there were other charges.

"For instance, we know of one diabetic who was charged €30 for a standard GP letter to enable them to bring their insulin on board a flight to America."

Meanwhile, when GPs were asked their opinion on whether they should be allowed to advertise their services freely, the IMT poll found that they were divided in their views.

Some 48pc of the 100 GPs polled said that they were in favour of unrestricted advertising, but 52pc said they were opposed to it.

However, among those GPs who did favour being able to advertise their services freely, many went on to comment that they would not like to see American-style television advertisements, and that professional standards would have to be preserved.

The Medical Council's new ethical guide, which was published last year, significantly eased restrictions on advertising by doctors.

It removed restrictions on the size, content and means of advertising, and specified the provision of information through the media, internet or other means can be considered in the public interest if it is factually correct, evidence-based and not misleading.