Wednesday, 6 November 2013
Department of Defence
Defence Forces Family Clinics
20. To ask the Minister for Defence if he has carried out a cost benefit analysis into the decision to cut medical services to the 484 families of serving soldiers who rely on same; and if he plans to offer the families affected some alternative service to alleviate the hardship that will ensue when this facility is taken from them. [46644/13]
A full analysis of the service provided at the Curragh Families Clinic was undertaken prior to the decision being taken to discontinue the services being provided. The analysis concluded that the service provided by the Curragh Families Clinic is an anomaly in that it is a benefit which is only available to a relatively small number of families of enlisted personnel resident within the Curragh Camp and surrounding areas. Similar services are not provided to families of enlisted military personnel at any other location in the State. A further anomaly arises in that new personnel deployed to the Curragh in recent times do not receive the benefit of free family care. The recent analysis of the operation of the Curragh Families Clinic followed on from a number of reviews, undertaken in the period since 1990, all of which recommended that the Clinic be closed. The decision to discontinue the operation of the clinic had regard to those reviews, equity considerations and the cost of the service.
I would like to emphasise that the families affected by the closure of the Clinic will have the same rights of access to public health services as other families of enlisted personnel. Also, existing services are being maintained for a period until 31 December to allow families make arrangements to transfer to local GP’s and apply for medical cards or GP visit cards if required. If any patient requires assistance in finding a new GP or applying for a medical or GP visit card this can be provided by staff in the clinic during the transition period.
I have no plans to change the decision to discontinue the services at the Clinic.