Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Questions (789)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

789. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health his plans regarding the different phasing arrangements for the introduction of free GP care for all and the timescale proposed. [22598/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Government is committed to introducing, on a phased basis, a universal GP service without fees within its term of office, as set out in the Programme for Government and the Future Health strategy framework. As announced in the Budget, it has been decided to commence the roll-out of a universal GP service by providing all children aged 5 and under with access to a GP service without fees. This will mean that almost half of the population will have access to GP services without fees. The Government is providing new, additional funding of €37 million to meet the cost of this measure which will provide a GP service to approximately 240,000 children that must currently pay to see a GP.

The implementation of this new service requires primary legislation. In that respect, the Health (General Practitioner Service) Bill 2014 was published on 23 April 2014. Second stage debate in Oireachtas is expected by end of May, with a view to enactment by July. The phasing of the universal GP service for the balance of the population is under active consideration and a decision will be made by the Government in due course.