Press Release

Minister Harris receives Government approval for the drafting of legislation to allow over 14,000 carers to benefit from free GP care

Minister for Health, Simon Harris, has received Government approval for the drafting of legislation which will allow over 14,000 carers to benefit from free GP care.

The Department of Health will now draft the General Scheme/Heads of a Bill to provide in law for eligibility for GP services without charge to be extended to all those in receipt of Carer’s Allowance or Carer’s Benefit.

Speaking today, Minister Harris said, “This Government recognises the need for further supports for those who are caring for the most vulnerable in our society. I’m very happy to say that when implemented, this measure will enable people who are in receipt of full, or half-rate, Carer’s Allowance or Carer’s Benefit to qualify automatically for GP care without fees. I’ve heard first-hand about the pressure that many people are under as they care for their loved ones, and I believe it is important to recognise their commitment and support them. Carers willingly give up a great deal to provide care to family members and others, and I hope that this concrete support from the State for their mental and physical wellbeing will help alleviate some of the strain.”

Minister for Disabilities, Finian McGrath, welcomed the measure, noting that, “Many thousands of families and other unpaid carers countrywide are providing extensive ongoing care for people with physical or intellectual disabilities, in many cases on a 24/7 basis. I have met so many of them and have heard of their incredible dedication and selflessness. They deserve to be supported and recognised and the enactment of this legislation will make a contribution towards alleviating the significant costs of caring for those who will benefit”.

Minister for Mental Health and Older People, Jim Daly, stated that, “The National Carers Strategy seeks to recognise the selfless commitment of Ireland’s carers to supporting loved ones with a long term health condition, disability or frailty to continue to live as well as possible in their own homes and communities. Carers need to look after their own health too and this is recognised in the National Carers Strategy. This initiative to provide free GP care to those carers who are in receipt of Carer’s Allowance and Carer’s Benefit re-enforces the Government’s aim under the Carers Strategy to support carers”.

This measure will benefit approximately 14,000 persons who do not currently hold a Medical or GP Visit Card. The change will be implemented this year, subject to the drafting and enactment of the necessary legislation.


Notes to the Editor

A key objective of Government policy for older people, children and adults with an illness or a disability is to support them to live in dignity and independence in their own homes and communities for as long as possible. Carers are vital to the achievement of this objective and are considered a backbone of care provision in Ireland.

The National Carers’ Strategy, which was published in July 2012, is a cross-departmental strategy that sets the strategic direction for future policies, services and supports provided by Government Departments and agencies for carers.

The Strategy contains actions to implement the following four national goals:

· Recognise the value and contribution of carers and promote their inclusion in decisions relating to the person they are caring for;
· Support carers to manage their physical, mental and emotional health and wellbeing;
· Support carers to care with confidence through the provision of adequate information, training, services and supports;
· Empower carers to participate as fully as possible in economic and social life.

Further supports and information for carers are available from the HSE here: