Patients to bypass GPs under new scheme

Pharmacists may be allowed write prescriptions for medical card patients

Medical-card holders may shortly be able to obtain treatment for minor ailments at their local pharmacy without having to attend the GP

Medical-card holders may shortly be able to obtain treatment for minor ailments at their local pharmacy without having to attend the GP

 

Almost two million medical-card holders may shortly be able to obtain treatment for minor ailments at their local chemist without having to attend the GP.

The change would take pressure off family doctors, especially after the proposed introduction of free GP care for under-sixes and all over-70s next year.

Minister of State for Primary Care Kathleen Lynch said there was “everything to recommend” about a primary care scheme because pharmacists were trusted members of most communities.

Under current rules, medical card holders must attend their GP to obtain a prescription or to have common complaints such as a headache or heartburn treated. This is the case even if they do not require prescription medication.

Minor ailments

The scheme was proposed by the Irish Pharmacy Union in a pre-budget submission as a way of providing “more timely access to appropriate healthcare at no extra cost to the State”. Similar schemes have been introduced in the UK and other countries with broad success.

Meanwhile, Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has welcomed a new measure that will allow people who donate one of their kidneys to claim tax exemption on the reimbursable expenses involved.

The relief, which would provide exemption for loss of income, accommodation and travel costs, was announced yesterday by Minister for Finance Michael Noonan in the Finance Bill.

“The aim is to ensure that donors do not lose out financially when they donate a kidney,” Mr Varadkar said.