Mixed reactions to free GP care being extended to children aged six and seven – TheLiberal.ie – Our News, Your Views

Mixed reactions to free GP care being extended to children aged six and seven




Parents and carers of children aged six and seven can sign up for free GP visit cards from today, as the scheme covers around 78,000 children, reports RTE.

Thanks to this, children can visit the doctor free of charge.

Current GP visit cards for children up to the age of five will automatically be extended until the child turns eight.

Applications can be made at hse.ie/gpvisitcards and will take seven to ten days to process.

For those unable to register online, the HSE offers the option of registering by post.

In addition to free doctor visits, the card includes two- and five-year-old assessments, GP home visits and emergency medical care outside of business hours.

The HSE’s clinical director, Dr Colm Henry, described the extension of GP visit cards for children under eight as “a significant milestone in healthcare”.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, he acknowledged that GPs have been under pressure in recent years and that they have made a huge contribution to protecting the public during Covid-19.

“This is a significant milestone in healthcare that people don’t feel is an impediment to accessing primary care. There have been additional supports put into general practice, including extension of teams, staff and importantly enhanced training. We’re going from 250 trainees a year to 350 by next year, and ultimately 450 trainees per year. The number of trainees in general practice will have increased from 900 to 1,300 by 2026,” Dr Henry said, reports RTE.

Speaking on the same programme, the Cork GP said: “We know that about 78,000 children will benefit from this and they will no longer have to pay to see their GP. They will still have to pay their medicine cost. We know that GPs are very busy, that there are increasingly people have difficulty getting access to their GP,” reports RTE.

Speaking to RTÉ’s News at One, Dr Tadhg Crowley, chairman of the GP committee of the Irish Medical Organisation, said it was “good news health story” for the 78,000 children who would benefit from the programme.

Dr Crowley said support measures could be put in place to help increase staffing but warned that there was now a critical shortage of GPs in the country.

Dr Crowley said support measures could be put in place to help increase staffing but warned that there was now a critical shortage of GPs in the country.

“Just because we extend the number of cards along the road, we have to be careful that at all times we are extending the number of GPs that we have available,” he said, reports RTE.

“There have been some very welcome announcements in terms of increasing the training, increasing the number of GPs that will be available on various schemes, but unfortunately, it’s just not enough,” he added, reports RTE.

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