GPs claim free care by 2016 not possible, despite Minister
The GP Committee attached to the Irish Medical Organisation claims there is no hope of meeting the Minister for Health's target of Free GP care for all by 2016.
Chair of the committee, Dr Ray Walley, said the Department of Health has no plan to support this objective and no appreciation of the resources required to implement it.
He claims the only way such a scheme can be funded is through indirect taxes, or through an insurance scheme, instead of directly-funded as currently planned.
"The Department of Health have no plan to support this objective and no appreciation of the resources required to implement it,” Dr Walley said.
He said the key question regarding free GP care was who would pay for it.
“Politicians talk up free GP care as if it’s free for everyone but the reality is that people will still pay for their GP but will simply do so indirectly through their taxes or through an insurance scheme instead of directly as at present,” Dr Walley added.
Speaking to RTÉ Radio earlier today, however, the Minister for Health, James Reilly, said that universal GP care would "absolutely" be achieved by the next general election.
"That still remains our goal," he said.
"I'm saying that every citizen in this country will have free GP care - that's the goal of this Government. I can't predict every pothole along the road and every problem that will arise, but I am absolutely committed … it remains an absolute must."
During the extensive interview, Minister Reilly also addressed the health insurance market, claiming that the reduction in numbers of people with private health insurance has occurred alongside an increase in those with medical cards in equal numbers.
"I'm not saying that these are all the same people … but there's a correlation here," he said.
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