Press Release

Statement by Mr Alex White TD, Minister of State at the Department of Health with responsibility for Primary Care Free GP care for young children an historic public health initiative

Minister of State for Primary Care, Alex White TD says that free GP services for children aged 5 and under is a first step in securing universal access to primary care for all citizens, and eliminating the two-tier health system.

“This is a significant advance for families with young children. And it is a really progressive public health initiative for the country” White said. On 8 May 2013, the Taoiseach announced to the Dail that Alex White would come back to government with an updated plan for expediting this Programme for Government commitment. Minister White subsequently presented a paper to the Cabinet Committee on Health on 22 July last, on foot of which the government has now decided to commence the implementation of free GP care by extending such access to children of 5 years and under.

Minister White continued “I am delighted that the Cabinet has accepted my proposal. This key commitment in the Programme for Government for universal access to GP Care without fees – is a core element of the reforms we need in our health system, and a building block for Universal Health Insurance. The evidence is clear that people delay or avoid visiting their GP where a fee is required. Removing this cost barrier will mean that citizens will be far more likely to address medical problems at an earlier stage, leading to better outcomes and treatment that is of less cost to the State. There is a very good reason why GP care without fees is the norm in Northern Ireland, Britain and across Europe: because it makes sense and it works”.

Concluding the Minister said “the Labour Party has long championed the principle of universal access to GP care and now, along with our Coalition partners, we are introducing this significant and historic public health initiative”.