Thursday, 5 July 2018
Health (General Practitioner Service) Bill 2018: Committee and Remaining Stages
To speak briefly, I very much welcome the passing of the Bill. I commend the Minister on one point he made just there and indeed in his initial speech, when he spoke first of respite care and also on the question of personal assistance.It is very important that carers recognise that in the case of the person being cared for, even though he or she is being cared for at home, the State has a duty of care and thus should contribute to same. It is important that family care, vital and important as it is, is never seen as an excuse for the State to fall back on its duty to provide supports. I welcome the commitment to strengthen the supports available for personal assistant hours and, indeed, to consider choice when it comes to personal assistant hours. It will mean that families and individuals can play a role in making sure that they are happy with and have accountability around home care services, about which people can sometimes feel vulnerable.
I wish to make a final but practical point. Like many others, I would love if this was not simply a GP card but a proper medical card that provides full healthcare. I want to ask the Minister of State to do the following. When he converses with the Minister for Health, if we are not going to just have the full medical card at this point, and I mean the full GP card, that particular areas are studied to see whether supports are needed, such as counselling services. We know that the work done by carers causes mental strain, difficulties and pressures. We also know that there are certain areas of care that are physically taxing in terms of providing care. Perhaps the Minister and Minister of State would consider particular areas and ask the caring organisations to recommend additional supports for specific areas so that when people approach their GP, the GP will recommend supports for the carers. It would mean that we could provide supports in some of the high volume areas of concern to carers.