Restrictions possible for free under-sixes GP scheme; doctors raise workload concern

Restrictions may be introduced for some children under the free GP care scheme, because of concerns from GPs about the extra workload they have had to take on.

According to the Sunday Independent, the Government is looking at the idea of a €5 charge for parents of six to 12-year-olds, or a cap of four appointments a year.

Currently, all children under six are entitled to free GP care, but the Government has promised to extend it to under 12s and eventually under 18s.

Wexford GP and former Fine Gael TD Liam Twomey said there had been a sharp rise in the workload since the scheme was introduced.

"We have a lot of patients that need to be seen, and practices are finding it impossible to manage appointments and to cope with the additional workloads," he said.

"A lot of it is, to be honest, relatively trivial and so some restrictions have to be put on it. Otherwise we will end up with a system like what's in the United Kingdom, where up to one in seven patients waits up to a week to see their GP, and that's no use either."

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