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'We can't go anywhere without a conversation': Alex White wants agreement with the IMO

White said the €37 million earmarked for the under sixes scheme was agreed in the Budget.

Minister of State for Primary Care, Alex White.
Minister of State for Primary Care, Alex White.
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

THE MINISTER OF State for Primary Care Alex White said in an interview on RTÉ’s This Week radio programme that it is completely “untrue” to state that the €37 million earmarked for the under sixes scheme will be taken out of another section of the health budget, stating that it is not being taken from one group to give to another.

White said the €37 million was “new money” that had been set aside from the Exchequer and agreed upon in the Budget.

“Now was the time for reforming they system, he stated, adding that he wanted to get away from a system that is means based

He said that some children do not qualify for medical cards because their parents are over the income limits.

He said it was his personal view that “all children should have access to GP care without having to pay”.

White said there should be a universal system, adding Ireland is the only one in Europe that doesn’t have one, adding that everybody should get to see a doctor without the barrier of fees.

When asked what would happen if doctors decided to boycott the scheme he said that he would prefer to do it “by agreement” with doctors, stating that he has yet to properly sit down with the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO), adding “we cant go anywhere without a conversation”. 

“Lets sit down and see what process we can work out…  we all want to achieve the same end,” he said.

Trevor Duffy, the incoming president of the IMO said the population should have access to healthcare but said that resourcing it “is a huge issue”.

He disagreed that the €37 million for the under six scheme was not coming out of another pot, saying:

… it’s a bit like moving the deck chairs on the Titanic. You can move them from one side to another  but it is not a new deck chair.

He agreed that it was “robbing Peter to pay Paul” situation.

Read: Minister: ‘A decision to see a doctor should never be a financial dilemma’>

Read: Doctors not happy with new health bill proposals published today>

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