Commenting following the publication of the 2014 HSE Service Plan, and the ambition to provide medical cards to children aged five and under, Chris Goodey, CEO of the NAGP said, “The HSE plan to save €23 Million by reducing the number of medical card holders. Patients losing their medical card will have their access to medical treatment, services and medication stopped without consultation. Many of these will be patients who were given discretionary medical cards on the basis of their medical needs. This cut will hurt the most vulnerable in society. Conversely Minister Reilly has offered to fund “free” GP care for all under six in the state. There is no medical or economic evidence to support such a move.”

Dr. Andrew Jordan, Chairman of the NAGP said, “€37 Million to fund the under 5 scheme is totally inadequate to provide the same quality of service that these children current enjoy. If the 280,000 children under six who do not have a medical card are given one, then there will be a huge increase in visits to GPs – thereby increasing the average workload of GPs – other patients will, of necessity – have to lose out or wait. If the GP service is overwhelmed, it will have a serious follow-on impact on the rest of the health service with disastrous results.

Since 2008 dramatic cuts have been imposed on General Practice by FEMPI legislation. GPs have had the resources they receive from the HSE (GMS Scheme) cut by as much as 33% per patient. This is the allowance they receive on an annual basis for treating medical card holders and it is these funds that provides for the GP surgery, heat, light, rent, equipment, staff and services.”

Dr. Stephen Murphy, spokesperson for the National Association of General Practitioners said, “The NAGP believe the idea of free GP care for children under six is laudable, but its members can only advocate for a properly funded scheme, which will not take away supports from its members’ most vulnerable patients. €37 Million is in not adequate to fund this scheme. It is unfortunate that this scheme for children aged 5 and under has been planned without any proper consultation or analysis of its practical implications. The continued refusal of the Department of Health to engage with general practitioners about these issues makes any likelihood of a workable reform to the way family practice operates in Ireland less likely. We call on the government to actively engage with general practitioners.”

Mr. Chris Goodey, CEO of the NAGP added, “Our members are strongly of the opinion that the cut backs to the GMS scheme are intrinsically linked to the cost of providing free GP visits for Children aged five and under. This plan is an attempt to create a smokescreen to deflect from the planned cut of €619 million to the health budget contained with the 2014 Service Plan”

ENDS

Mr Chris Goodey, Dr. Stephen Murphy and Dr Andy Jordan are available for interview.
For further Information and interview schedule please contact:
Timothy Smyth 087 9882703/ 01 6678795
Lex Public Affairs, 120 Pembroke Road, Dublin 4