New research highlights differences in how frequently public and private patients visit their GPs
Suggests 4 million extra GP visits if Government introduces free GP care for all
IMO warns that system will not be able to cope as currently structured.
Monday 6th January 2014. New research on visitation patterns in GP surgeries in Ireland warns that demand for visits to GP services is likely to increase by 4 million visits a year (16%) if the Government extends free GP services to all as planned by 2016. The research has been published in the Irish Medical Journal in recent weeks.
The research shows that 24 million consultations take place with GPs in Ireland every year. It also confirms that public patients (Medical Cards / GP Visit Card holders) visit a GP on average almost 8 times a year (7.72) whereas private patients visit their GP on average just over 3 times a year (3.35)
Speaking today Dr. Ray Walley, Chairman of the GP Committee of the IMO said that the research highlighted the need for intensive, sophisticated planning in advance of any decision to extend GP cards to all citizens; “the research confirms what we have long argued which is that patients visit their GPs more often when they have Medical Cards or GP Visit Cards. The research confirms that the GP services will be unable to cope with the demand for GP services if the Government pushes ahead with its current proposals. The research also clearly demonstrates that so called official estimates of current and future consultation are woefully off the mark“
Dr. Walley called on the Government to suspend any talk of extending Medical Cards or Free GP Visit Cards until much greater planning and research has been undertaken. He said; “The IMO is calling for an increase in resources to general practice so that it can cope with the existing level of consultations along with a strategy, based on reality, on the delivery of so-called Free GP Care and how such a service is to be resourced”