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Under 6s

Free GP care will lead to 750,000 extra consultations per year

The Irish Medical Organisation says that figure will “overwhelm” the health system.

THE GOVERNMENT PLAN to introduce free GP care for children under six will see three-quarters of a million extra GP visits a year.

That is the finding of a study in the Irish Medical Journal, which says that, if children who do not currently avail of a medical or GP visit card were to attend GPs in the same numbers as those who do, the system should be ready for 750,000 extra visits a year.

The research examined GP visiting patterns involving children under six in different payment categories.

It found that average consultation rates for children with free GP visit cards was over five a year, while the comparable rate for children for which fees would be paid was just two a year.

The Irish Medical Organisation, which represents GPs, says that the health system will not be able to cope.

Dr Ray Walley, Chairman of the GP Committee of the IMO, said such an increase in visitor numbers would “overwhelm” surgeries and lead to waiting lists for GP visits for the first time in this country.

This research confirms our worst fears and highlights the lack of planning and thought that has gone into the government’s plans.

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