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8th April 2019 | Health

Provision of free GP care to under 12s is welcome but needs to be carefully managed and Fine Gael’s ‘media first’ strategy is not helpful: Greens

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Green Party Health spokesperson Dr Séamus McMenamin has advised caution with regard to the media reports of an extension of free GP care to under 12s.

He said: “Despite media reports, free GP care for under 12s has not been agreed and talks on this have yet to begin.

“Unless the Government address the recruitment and retention crisis in general practice it is unlikely that the resources to provide this will be available. The scandal of delays in cervical check reports following Minister Harris’ decision to authorise extra smear tests show the peril of a political response to healthcare provision.

“Fine Gael rushing to the media with announcements before they have been practically worked out is deeply unhelpful and has led to serious problems.”

He continued: “The Department of Health under-estimated the increase in attendance by the under 6s and have led to waiting lists for GPs and 70% of practices closing their lists to new patients. This extension of free GP care to under 12s is welcome but it needs to be adequately planned and provided for.”

Dr McMenamin welcomed the decision to restore funding to GP services.

“General Practice has been weakened by successive cuts of up to 40% under the FEMPI Legislation. This restoration is welcome but it is the minimum required to stabilise the sector”

He also welcomed the proposed €80 million package for chronic disease management.

“International evidence shows that chronic disease management provided by General practitioners reduced hospital admissions, improves patient outcomes and has high patient satisfaction scores.”