Press Release

Tánaiste disappointed at failure to reach agreement with IMO on GP Visit Cards

The Tánaiste today said that she was extremely disappointed to learn that talks at the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) had not succeeded in reaching an agreement with the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) on the introduction of the GP Visit Medical Cards.

‘‘The government is determined to continue to build up our cancer services, so that we have world class services available and accessible to patients in each region of the country.

“ I am at a loss to understand why the IMO is seeking to renegotiate an LRC brokered agreement worth €93 Million to their GP members this year, and which was overwhelmingly accepted in a ballot of those members last month. The agreement addressed a whole range of outstanding issues and also provided for a fundamental review of all publicly funded primary care services involving GPs, including fees, and this is the appropriate forum to deal with the issue of capitation rates.”

The Tánaiste also strongly refuted the allegation by the IMO that doctor visit cardholders would not be entitled to receive a full medical card when they reach 70 years of age. “This is patently untrue. Every body over the age of 70 has a statutory entitlement to a full medical card and this continues to be the position.”

“All GP Visit Cardholders will obtain a full medical card at age 70. The issue that the IMO are seeking to renegotiate, relates only to the fees paid to doctors for these persons on qualifying for the full medical card. ”

“It is unfortunate that the people on lower incomes, who the scheme is designed to help, and who qualify for the GP Visit card, will now have to wait longer before they can obtain their cards and avail of free GP services.”

“ I am anxious to proceed as soon as possible in order to ensure that families and individuals on low incomes can obtain treatment without charge. If the IMO won’t co operate with the scheme then we will have to examine other alternatives. Accordingly, I have now asked officials in my Department to urgently examine possible alternative arrangements for achieving the objectives behind the doctor visit card initiative.”