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Budget 2023: Kerry doctor brands free GP visit card a ‘motherhood and apple pie’ announcement


Dr Eamonn Shanahan.

Dr Eamonn Shanahan.

Dr Eamonn Shanahan.


A Kerry-based general practitioner (GP) has given a cautious welcome to the Government’s decision to expand free GP visit cards under Budget 2023.

The new scheme is expected to benefit over 400,000 patients, nationally.

Dr Eamonn Shanahan of the Farranfore Medical Centre said the announcement is like ‘motherhood and apple pie’ in terms of populism by Government, warning that medical services must keep pace with the rise and intake of extra patients.

“There are people who have been putting off visits to GPs because they couldn’t afford it, so clearly the announcement is a good thing in that respect,” he said.

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“Unfortunately, the flip side of the coin is going to be providing the service. It’s going to be difficult,” he added.

Dr Shanahan explained that the long-term target, by 2026, is to have an intake of 350 trainee GPs. Currently, this figure is at 250. The problem, he said, is that the 350 trainees will not be working in the system until 2030.

“To be fair, the numbers are increasing year on year. This year we have an intake of 250 and last year it was 240 GPs,” said Dr Shanahan.

“It is going up incrementally, but the problem is there are also a lot of GPs who are due to retire. Short-term, there are certainly going to be issues with this scheme,” he said.