Thursday, 10 September 2020

Questions (219)

Alan Kelly


219. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Health his plans to introduce free general practitioner care for children under eight as announced in Budget 2020 (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23105/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Government is committed to increasing access to GP care without charges for children, an important healthcare measure that will remove a potentially prohibitive cost barrier to accessing GP care and will help to improve children’s health as they develop.

The Health (General Practitioner Service and Alteration of Criteria for Eligibility) Act 2020 was signed into law in August. This Act provides, amongst other things, for the phased expansion of GP care without fees to all children aged 12 years and under. The initial stage of this phased expansion will be the provision of GP care without fees to all children aged between 6 and 8.

The appropriate date for commencing the expansion remains under consideration in light of COVID-19 and the additional pressures the expansion might place on general practice in that context and in anticipation of the usual increase in demand for healthcare services over the winter period. This date will be determined in consultation with the IMO. It is important to ensure that any additional pressures placed on general practice will not limit its capacity to meet the needs of all patients in the community.