Reilly says there will be free GP care


THE MINISTER for Health has insisted that free GP care will be delivered in the lifetime of the Government. Addressing Fine Gael’s internal health committee focusing on primary care last night, James Reilly fielded questions on hospitals, home helps and junior doctors during the meeting which lasted for under an hour.

The row over primary care centres that led to the resignation of Róisín Shortall as minister of state was not touched on.

“There wasn’t much said on the primary care centres,” one attendee said. “It was the problem that dared not speak its name. People were almost astutely avoiding causing fireworks. Nobody wanted to light the fuse.”

There was a large attendance at the meeting. Dublin South TD Peter Mathews asked Dr Reilly why, in his view, there were “so relatively few nationally trained and qualified doctors” working in Irish hospitals. “Everybody who goes to the AE sections of hospitals will find at the moment that due to the workloads in hospitals that there are a lot of foreign doctors and nurses,” he told The Irish Times later.

He said Dr Reilly did not have time to answer his question fully because he left to hear Alex White’s first speech to the Dáil.

Mr White of Labour has been appointed by the Government as Minister of State for Health to replace Ms Shortall, who resigned last week.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams asked if Mr White would have powers over primary care delegated to him, since Ms Shortall had complained about not having such powers.

Mr Kenny said no specific legislation applied to primary care.

A spokeswoman for the Labour Party in Government later said Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore agreed with what Mr Kenny had told the Dáil. “The delegation of powers is one of the issues Minister of State White will be discussing with Minister Reilly in the coming days,” she said.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin complained to the Ceann Comhairle that everyone outside the Dáil was discussing the matter but TDs in the chamber were not allowed to do so.

Separately, Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan briefed Fine Gael TDs and Senators on local government reform last night.