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Dublin: 16 °C Thursday 18 September, 2014

Doctors say it’s not fair to charge fees for prescriptions

The report singles out user charges as “inefficient in comparison to pooled funding”.

DOCTORS HAVE CRITICISED prescription charges for acting as a disincentive to patients taking their medication.

This comes after a report from the EU finding that fees for prescriptions put an unfair burden on patients.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Chris Goodey, head of the National Association of General Practitioners said charging extra for prescriptions can encourage patients not to get them, which can have negative repercussions.

Charging for prescriptions and encouraging patients not to take medication is not a positive thing. If your patients are taking their medication, it keeps them out of hospital, keeps the blood pressure under control, stops strokes and things like that.

In the report by the European Comission, charges for GP fees and outpatient prescription drugs are described as “inequitable and inefficient in comparison to pooled funding”.

The study found that it had been consistently demonstrated that user demand decreased when charges were applied for outpatient drugs. This was regardless of whether the drugs were part of essential or non-essential treatments.

It was also found in the report that even where charges were low, patients were still likely to be deterred. It was said that:

This undermines financial protection and can have a negative impact on health.

Prescription charges in Ireland sit at €2.50 per item for someone with a medical card and up to a maximum of €25 per family.

On GP care, Goodey emphasised the need to ensure that standards are maintained:

In Ireland, we still have a system that isn’t completely broken. Massive cuts are affecting our system. Even our established GPs are leaving… we want to keep the heritage of seeing the GP on the same day of asking.

The report was published last month by the European Comission’s ‘Expert Panel on Effective Ways of Investing in Health’. In a report released earlier this month, the expert panel outlined plans to tackle inequality in European medical systems.

Read: Residents of disability support service had to pay for kettles, toasters and curtains

Read: So it turns out that ‘free GP care’ might not actually be free

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