GP free visit expansion: Over 500,000 more people to get GP Cards

by Rose Barrett
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Rose Barrett

Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly and Minister for Public Expenditure, Paschal Donohoe announced on Tuesday last that the provision of GP Visit Cards to over 500,000 more people would commence.

That would include children aged six and 7 seven years, and to all of those earning no more than the median income, following agreement with the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO). GP Visit Cards permit the holders to access GP care without charge. This measure represents the largest expansion in access to GP care without charges in the history of the State.

Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly stated: “I have long made clear my commitment to making healthcare affordable for all. Today marks a significant milestone as we provide those who can least afford to pay for access to care with the right to attend a GP at no cost.

“As I said last October, this is a gamechanger for our health service. Ensuring that more people can afford to visit their GP gives access to healthcare in the right place – one of the central commitments in the Programme for Government. It also removes the burden on people who may defer GP visits because they simply cannot afford it.

“I am delighted that we will be implementing this expansion in care with the agreement of the IMO.  We collaborated successfully with general practice particularly through the period of the Covid pandemic, when GPs displayed an extraordinary commitment to delivering patient care.

“Coupled with the large expansion of the GP training programme I announced recently, in conjunction with the Irish College of General Practitioners, we are building strong and resilient primary care services as we increase our General Practice workforce now while improving access to those services for those who most need them.”

Minister for Public Expenditure, National Development Plan Delivery and Reform, Paschal Donohoe said: “I welcome this new GP agreement which will reduce the cost of accessing vital general practice care for those in our society who often struggle to afford GP visits.

“It will also enable the delivery of a core Government priority to expand access to medical care in line with Sláintecare. The significance of this milestone cannot be underestimated as it involves the largest expansion in eligibility for free GP care in the history of the State covering up to 500,000 people.”

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