Doctors expressed differing views on the Government’s decision to expand free GP care to six- and seven-year-olds as part of a broader strategy to provide universal healthcare.
The move, which will provide free family doctor care to an additional 120,000 children, is part of the €45 million package included in the budget and will lower the Drug Payment Scheme threshold from €114 to €100.
Dr. Bertie Daly from High Street Medical Center new market In north Cork, he agreed that most GPs would support measures to help families get health care, but said he was not convinced the move to expand free GP care was fully considered.
“I think most practitioners would agree that the universal health system is a good idea – universal health care for children cannot but improve children’s health. But like any other health initiative, it will only work if you support it appropriately, and at this point we will be worried.”
Dr Daly said that with the introduction of free GP care for children under the age of six in July 2015, GPs saw a huge increase in their offerings, and there are concerns that this new extension of free GP care could have a similar knock-on effect.
“We have a very good primary care system, but it is overwhelmed and any small increase in workload can have a disastrous effect on performance capability, especially on seniors and other aspects of the primary care system such as wait times and response times.”
Dr. Mike Thompson at Imokilly Medical Center midleton He shared some of his concerns about the movement in East Cork, which Dr Daly describes as a “populist” movement, emphasizing that some practices cannot afford additional visits.
“I think most people will understand that daytime general practice and non-working hours are full to capacity – you can only stretch a tire so far.”
Dr Thompson said that while the move wasn’t a surprise, he didn’t believe the extension of free GP care would have the same impact as the introduction of free GP care for 440,000 children under the age of six in 2015, as older children are typically found less frequently.
“I would have preferred that free GP care be extended to more medically deserving groups – I know people with cancer who cannot get free GP care and we are still struggling with people who have asthma or type 1 diabetes – I think it was a missed opportunity from that perspective.”
Dr. Fiona Kelly related to Bank Location Clinic Castletownbere In west Cork, he shared Dr Thompson’s view that money could be better spent on other sectors of health care, such as hiring more doctors for general practice.
“First of all, I think it was a bit of a political gimmick – GPs haven’t discussed this before – we’re already totally overwhelmed and there are thousands of patients across the country who find it really difficult to access a GP as it is,” he said.
Dr Kelly exemplified a recent informal survey of nearly 900 GPs by the Irish College of General Practitioners, of whom 60 percent said they had already exceeded their capacity and could not take in any more new patients, predicting the situation would worsen. not better.
“It is estimated that around 700 GPs will retire in the next five years and the number of training places planned for 2026 is only 350. So more from entering the profession will leave and leave current practitioners at breaking point, so we need to recruit extra. doctors,” he added.