Press Release

Health Ministers Announce New Supports for Carers & People with Disabilities

–        GP Visit Cards for all in receipt of carers allowance

–        €10 million extra for respite care

The Government today agreed new health service measures that will have a positive impact on the lives of people with disabilities and their carers.  Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, the Minister of State with special responsibility for Disabilities, Finian McGrath TD, and the Minister of State with special responsibility for Older People, Jim Daly TD, have announced Government approval for additional funding to enable all carers in receipt of Carer’s Allowance to qualify for a GP Visit Card and an additional €10 million in funding to provide respite care for persons with disabilities

The Minister for Health Simon Harris TD said the Government recognised the need for further supports for those who are caring for the most vulnerable in our society, saying: “We have all witnessed the strain that many families are under in caring for their loved ones, a role which is taken on without any hesitation. However, carers themselves also require our support and I am delighted that we have been able to allocate additional funding to improve respite care services and to ensure that all carers can access GP services without charge.”

This measure will ensure that everyone who is a carer and in receipt of Carer’s Allowance and who up to now has not qualified on means or age grounds will now be able to attend a GP free of charge.  This will be implemented in 2018, subject to the drafting and enactment of the necessary legislation.

The Minister of State with special responsibility for Disability, Finian McGrath TD, said: “I am very aware of the pressure on carers of people with disabilities who are often under tremendous strain to keep going.  I hope that this funding will enable them to get a well-deserved break and to maintain their own health and wellbeing.  I will be requiring the HSE to give the utmost priority to putting these new facilities and services in place without delay and to provide me with regular reports so I can ensure this additional funding is directly targeted at the people who need it most.”

The details of the €10 million Respite Initiative are:

  • €8 million will provide 12 dedicated respite houses around the country – one in each Community Health Area plus an additional three houses in the greater Dublin area to respond to the very high demand for respite from this area. These additional twelve respite houses will provide approximately 19,000 respite nights per year to the people living in those areas on a full year.
  • €2million extra funding will be used for innovative respite solutions, such as Home Sharing and extended day services, to provide assistance where people need it most.

The Minister of State with special responsibility for Older People, Jim Daly TD welcomed the announcement, saying: “Government recognises and acknowledges the immense sacrifices that carers make on a daily basis and the commitment and compassion that they show to ensure the continued health and well-being of their loved ones.  Enabling carers to access GP services free of charge reflects this Government’s continued commitment to ensure that carers have access to services that will also protect their physical, mental and emotional health and well-being.”