Universal GP Care
The Government is committed to introducing, on a phased basis, a universal GP service without fees within its first term of office, as set out in the Programme for Government and in Future Health.
The Government announced that as part of Budget 2014, it would provide all children under 6 years with access to a GP service without fees. Currently, about 180,000 children under 6 years have access to a GP service without fees, under a medical card or a GP visit card, and it is estimated that at present about 240,000 children under 6 years must pay when they attend a GP. The Government has provided new, additional funding of €37 million to meet the cost of this measure to provide a GP service to all 420,000 children under 6 years.
This represents the first phase in the provision of a universal GP service for the entire population, without fees at the point of service. The Minister for Primary Care dealt with some of the background to this policy in this speech here In terms of phasing in a universal GP service, almost half of the entire population will have access to GP services without fees after this measure is implemented.
In the context of this measure, a draft GP contract document has been developed on the basis that all children under 6 years will be granted a right of access to a GP service under new enabling legislation, which is currently being drafted.
A consultation process was undertaken on the content and scope of the contract and the Minister for Primary Care briefed key stakeholders – the Irish College of General Practitioners, the Irish Medical Organisation and the National Association of General Practitioners – including a presentation on the key features of the draft contract.
In parallel with the public consultation on the content and scope of the contract, the Department of Health and the HSE are engaging in an exercise to develop a fee structure which will be the subject of further discussion with relevant stakeholders. The setting of the fee rates will be a matter for the Minister for Health, subject to the provisions of the legislation currently being drafted.
You can read a list of frequently asked questions here.