The National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) is urging Ministers Reilly and White to clarify the position of who is actually entitled to medical cards in light of a recent RTE TV interview which illustrates the Government’s chaotic approach to healthcare provision.

According to Chris Goodey, CEO of the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP), RTE’s Saturday Night Show interview with the parents of Alexander Coyle demonstrates the Government’s ham-fisted approach to medical card eligibility, and why their approach to the under-sixes legislation is so misjudged.

GPs have seen a drop of Medical Card holders of almost 7% since the beginning of the year. According to reports this is now a significant election issue and is being widely raised on the doorsteps to Labour and Fine Gael candidates who are canvassing for the European and local elections.
Now the Minister wants to introduce a third tier medical card as a “knee jerk” reaction to a public backlash.

Adding to the Ministers’ difficulties the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) has said that the legislation in relation to the Under 6’s contract will result in the removal, by the HSE, of free GP services from children who are currently covered by medical cards, such as Alexander Coyle – the opposite effect to that intended.

Under the legislation, the Health (General Practice Service) Bill 2014, children under-six will not be covered by the existing GMS contract, but will instead be covered by a new un-negotiated contract. Surveys indicate 97% of GPs will not sign  this new proposed contract, thus leading to a situation where children with medical cards will have no access to free GP care, as there will be no GPs to provide the service.

Mr Goodey said that instead of providing free GP care for children under-six not covered by medical cards; this legislation would have the bizarre and unintended consequence of taking free healthcare away from children who already have medical cards.

“GPs could not sign up to the contract as it currently existed because it was morally objectionable, physically unworkable and potentially dangerous. Additionally, the contract had many other clauses which were totally unacceptable – including the sharing of patient data with the HSE and a gagging clause.
“I urge the Minister in the strongest possible terms to withdraw this contract and begin the process of meaningfully engagement with the people he expects to fulfil the contract without preconditions. If he doesn’t he will cause a lot of worry, concern and upset to a large group of families and their children.”