IMO warns on extending free GP care
on 23/02/2013 00:00:00
Thousands of people on long-term illness schemes will soon receive free GP care via the medical card system.
The move was meant to be in place by the first half of last year, but has been delayed due to financial and potential legal constraints.
Dr Reilly has repeatedly pointed to the policy as a key factor in improving access to vital services for public patients. But the IMO said the policy risks pushing over-stretched GP clinics to "breaking point".
"GPs across the country are already at breaking point trying to manage their existing over-stretched workloads, but with the stroke of a pen the minister proposes to increase pressure on those GPs even more," said Dr Walley.
"Bizarrely, the current plans will enable patients with long-term illnesses to attend free of charge with GPs, but those GPs are not resourced to provide chronic illness care so they can only deal with these patients in respect of other health issues."
The row comes weeks after GPs and the Department of Health were involved in a public disagreement over whether clinics could charge patients for blood tests and other standard services.
There are also concerns over whether the plan to introduced free GP care for all by 2015 is feasible.