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Taoiseach promises: Government is still going to introduce free GP care

“Ultimately the entire population will be covered by free GP services,” Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Dáil.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny during Leaders' Questions
Taoiseach Enda Kenny during Leaders' Questions
Image: Screengrab via Oireachtas

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has said the Government still plans to introduce free GP care for everyone in the country within the next three years.

Responding to criticism from Opposition leaders in the Dáil this afternoon, the Taoiseach said the Government is not rolling back on its plan – despite media reports to the contrary.

“There are a number of items in the programme for government which [have proved undeliverable]” he said. “This is not one of them. Ultimately the entire population will be covered by free GP services.”

A report today suggested that the Government is to drop the GP card for people with long-term illness.

However the Taoiseach said that the Government is instead carrying out a review of the plan because news laws would be required to deliver free GP care for people with such illnesses. In a statement, the Department of Health said that “the legislation to provide a new legal basis for eligibility for a general practitioner service has proved more complex to complete than anticipated.”

The Taoiseach said the Government has tasked Junior Minister Alex White to carry out a full appraisal of the scheme and to report back to Cabinet in six weeks with his findings.

The Government was strongly criticised by a number of groups – including the Irish Medical Organisation – for the reported change to the free scheme.

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James Reilly

Both Micheál Martin and Gerry Adams used Leaders’ Questions this afternoon to criticise Minister James Reilly’s handling of the health service and the implementation of free GP care.

Micheal Martin said former Labour minister Róisín Shortall has been “proven correct” about her concerns over James Reilly and was “forced out of office for calling it right on that occasion”.

Minister James Reilly is “not the man to lead one of the most important departments in this country,” the Fianna Fáil leader told the Dáil.

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