by Alan Jacques
GRAVE concerns have been expressed regarding the viability of the free GP scheme for under sixes in Limerick.
With only 31 per cent of GPs in Limerick signed up for the scheme, Sinn Féin councillor Maurice Quinlivan feels the scheme is in “big trouble”.
“The government clearly haven’t managed to get the necessary buy-in from GPs in this city. I would now have very grave concerns regarding the viability of the scheme in Limerick,” Cllr Quinlivan said.
“The main problem is that this represents a very disjointed approach to delivering, as promised in the programme for government, universal healthcare to all citizens by 2016. There is no doubt that major difficulties have arisen as a result of attempting roll this out to one particular segment in such a haphazard fashion.”
The City North representative accused the Government of failing to ensure free GP care for the majority of the population that currently do not have access to medical cards or GP visit cards. He called on Health Minister Leo Varadkar to committing to the earliest possible roll out to the rest of the population, which he believes would lead to greater take-up across the country.
“The extension of free GP care to the under sixes can only be viewed as an interim and a very short-term measure. The scheme for under sixes is due to commence from July 1 and we are in a situation where 69 per cent of Limerick GPs have not registered to participate.
“This is just another chapter of the crisis at the heart of the administration the health service in this state and the negative impact that has on Limerick. It is so not hard to see why people do not have confidence in this government to deliver on health, especially, when you add the problems with this scheme to the on-going overcrowding in our hospitals and the fact the A&E at University Hospital Limerick is not fit for purpose.”
Cllr Quinlivan claimed the current situation underscores the healthcare crisis in lreland with the government “unable or unwilling to sort it out”.