Written answers

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Department of Health

General Practitioner Services

Photo of Terence FlanaganTerence Flanagan (Dublin North East, Independent)
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155. To ask the Minister for Health if consideration will be given to implementing a voucher system so that everyone will be entitled to two free visits to a doctor per year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47200/13]

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Minister, Department of Health; Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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The Government is committed to introducing, on a phased basis, a universal GP service without fees within its term of office, as set out in the Programme for Government and the Future Health strategy framework. As announced in the Budget, it has been decided to commence the roll-out of a universal GP service by providing all children aged 5 and under with access to a GP service without fees. This will mean that almost half of the population will have access to GP services without fees. The Government is providing new, additional funding of €37 million to meet the cost of this measure.

The introduction of a universal GP service constitutes a fundamental element in the Government's health reform programme. The current Government is the first in the history of the State to have committed itself to implementing a universal GP service for the entire population. A well-functioning health system should provide equal access to health care for its patients on the basis of health needs, rather than ability to pay. The principles of universality and equity of access mean that all residents in Ireland should be entitled to access a GP services that is free at the point of use.

It has been agreed that a number of options should be set out with regard to the phased implementation of a universal GP service without fees. As part of this work, consideration is being given to the approaches, timing and financial implications of the phased implementation of this universal health service. A range of options is under consideration with a view to bringing developed proposals to Government shortly.

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