Press Release

Tánaiste welcomes LRC recommendations to allow 200,000 GP visit cards to be issued

The Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney T.D., today (Tuesday 21 June) welcomed the recommendations of the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) which will allow for the issuing of the 200,000 new doctor only visit cards.

“As well as allowing for the GP visit cards to be issued the LRC recommendations address a whole range of long standing issues of dispute between the Department /HSE and the IMO. These outstanding IR issues with the IMO have been there for some time and I hope today’s developments can help to resolve these concerns and free the way for the early introduction of the doctor visit cards,” said the Tánaiste.

“I expect that these cards will benefit 200,000 people. They allow us to meet the needs of families on low incomes who were put off bringing their children to the doctor because of cost. With the same budget, we can support four times more people visiting their doctor free with this card than with the traditional medical card. In total over 1.3 million people will now have free access to their GP.”

“The HSE will shortly be in a position to advertise the new cards with a view to having them issued by next month. I would encourage people on low incomes to apply for them right away.”

The settlement terms proposed by the LRC include the payment of €48.5 m in arrears of general round increases paid to other health service personnel but withheld from GP’s.

The comprehensive recommendations address outstanding pay issues for General Practitioners in return for their co-operation on a number of important service improvements, including:

Implementation of the GP Visit Cards

  • Full and comprehensive review of the GP contract for publicly funded health services
  • Participation in emergency planning
  • Joint management of the GMS patient register
  • Increased use of information and communications technology to improve efficiency
  • Improved governance arrangements
  • Agreed verification and enhanced dispute resolution procedures

The Tánaiste acknowledged the work of Kieran Mulvey, Chief Executive of the LRC in facilitating the process that has led to this positive outcome.