Disability Federation of Ireland concerned about GP Care announcement
13 April 2015 -
The Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI) has expressed concern regarding the announcement over the weekend that a deal had been reached with doctors' representatives regarding the roll out of free GP care for children under 6, side-lining people with disabilities, including children, who already have a recognised need to access their GP.
Following todays’ report on RTE Morning Ireland, John Dolan, CEO of DFI joined many other organisations who have expressed concerns regarding the roll out of free GP care for children under 6 years of age. He stated “This is a wrong decision by Government if their intent is in putting those most in need first and securing best value for public money spent. Free GP care needs to be introduced on medical need as opposed to age. Children and adults with disabilities should be given priority to free GP care."
He continued “Minister Varadkar has stated that this is ‘a major step forward in improving access, quality and affordability of healthcare in Ireland.’ This may be true, but only for a small cohort of the population, and not to those who desperately need access. A person living with a disability has medical costs that are recurring and on-going, which could lead to poverty, deprivation and ill health if they are unable to access the services that they need. Surely free GP care should first be given to people who we already know need it.”
Talking about the Governments initial commitments regarding free GP care, Mr Dolan said “In 2013, the Government rolled back on their initial commitment to enact free GP care to everyone on the long term illness card. While this wouldn’t cover everyone with a disability, we saw it as a step in the right direction to give free healthcare on the basis of prioritised need. Then the Government reviewed people’s entitlement to access the discretionary medical card, stating they were going to make it ‘more sensitive to peoples needs’. Surely the money that has been allocated to the under 6 free GP care would be more effectively allocated to support more people with disabilities to access a medical card.”
He concluded “We believe that the roll out of free GP care to under 6’s does not adequately target the people who need it, and this will exacerbate the inequalities that already exist in our health system. Minister Varadkar needs to ensure that the limited monies available in the HSE budget are being used in the most effective way and supporting the people who need support, and we urge him to invest this money in children and adults, with disabilities, who need it most. During the last general election the leaders of Fine Gael and Labour stated that disability was their number one social justice priority, however this action blatantly show that this is not the case.”
For further information, please contact
John Dolan, CEO 086 795 7467
Allen Dunne, Deputy CEO, 086 850 2112
Jacqueline Grogan, Communications Officer, 086 388 2600