Budget 2016 - IMO warns that extending Free GP Visits to children under 12 is “simply not possible”
Tuesday 13th October 2015. The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has warned the Government that it is “simply not possible” to extend Free GP Visit Cards to new age cohorts in the absence of a new GP Contract for the Medical Card and the Doctor Visit Card schemes.
The Chairman of the IMO GP Committee, Dr. Padraig McGarry, was responding to leaks stating that the Government was planning to extend Free GP Visits to children up to 12 years of age. He warned that the GP system was severely under resourced after years of cuts and was under massive pressure to cope with existing demands. He said; “the question isn’t whether we can extend free GP care to new age groups, its how do we save General Practice as we know it.”
Dr. McGarry said that the only reason the IMO agreed to the introduction of Free GP Visits for children under 6 was on the basis that a new GP Contract for the medical card and Doctor visit card be agreed. Talks on the new contract are ongoing and in the absence of a new contract it is difficult to see how any new patient cohorts can be introduced. Dr. McGarry said that the IMO was committed to talks with the HSE and Department of Health on a new contract and fully expect those talks to conclude before any further extension of the scheme.
He said; “The current GP contract is almost 40 years old, it is not capable of delivering 21st century care as it is just an acute care contract and does not deal with disease management, preventative measures or any other aspects of modern practice.”
“We can hardly cater for the current population and there is no capacity to handle further cohorts of patients without resources. There is a significant manpower problem at GP level, the GP population is ageing and many of our young GPs are leaving the country and do not see Ireland as a place to have a secure future. “