Government reaches agreement with IMO on free GP care for kids

Deal will provide for height and weight checks, plus cycle of care for asthma sufferers

The Government has reached agreement with the Irish Medical Organisation on a recommended fee for the introduction of free GP care for children

The Government has reached agreement with the Irish Medical Organisation on a recommended fee for the introduction of free GP care for children

 

The Government has reached agreement with the Irish Medical Organisation on fees to be offered for a contract introducing free GP care for children under the age of six.

The deal will provide for a height and weight check of children at age two and five. There will also be a cycle of care for children with asthma.

It is understood the agreement will also involve the provision of diabetic care for everyone covered by a medical card or GP visit card.

The introduction of free GP care for young children is one of the Government’s key healthcare reforms.

However the move has been opposed by another group representing family doctors, the NAGP (National Association of General Practitioners).

The IMO said that, under the agreement, the Government will increase its investment in providing GP services to children under the age of six to €67 million, which it described as an 81 per cent increase on sum originally identified by Government.

It said that capitation fees for children under the age of 6 will be €125 - an 82 per cent increase on the €68.65 currently received. “Including additional payments and supports brings the price per patient up to €216 per child under 6,” the union said.

The agreement also includes a new Diabetic Cycle of Care contract, which the IMO said was a first step towards introducing chronic care into general practice and would involve separate funding of over €100 per diabetic patient per year.

Dr Ray Walley, chairman of the IMO GP committee, described the agreement as “a significant first step” in a process to get additional funds into general practice to enable it to deliver on its potential.

“We have stopped the cycle of cutbacks and begun the process of bringing new resources into general practice,” he said. “We have more to achieve but we are committed to the development of a new GP contract that is capable of delivering 21st century GP care to patients.”

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar and Minister for Primary Care Kathleen Lynch issued a statement welcoming the agreement.

“This agreement represents the first step in the phased introduction of a universal GP service without fees,” Ms Lynch said. “The commencement of this service this summer will make a real difference to the lives of the youngest in our society.”

Mr Varadkar said the deal was “a major step forward in improving access, quality and affordability of health care in Ireland”.

“I want to thank the IMO for their leadership in coming to this agreement and I firmly hope all GPs sign up to this new improved and expanded primary care service,” he added.