Wednesday, 3 June 2020
Department of Health
Primary Care Services Provision
525. To ask the Minister for Health if primary care counselling services will be made available free of charge for general practitioner visit card holders here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8359/20]
The Irish health system provides for two categories of eligibility for persons, ordinarily resident in the country, i.e. full eligibility (medical card holders) and limited eligibility (all others). Full eligibility is determined primarily by reference to income limits. Determination of an individual’s eligibility status is the responsibility of the HSE.
Adults with full eligibility can access a range of services including GP services, prescribed drugs and medicines, all in-patient public hospital services in public wards, including consultants’ services, all out-patient public hospital services including consultants’ services, dental, ophthalmic and aural services and appliances and a maternity and infant care service.
Persons with limited eligibility are eligible for in-patient and outpatient public hospital services including Consultant services, Emergency Department or minor injury care, are subject to certain charges. Other services such as allied healthcare professional services may also be made available to persons with limited eligibility.
A General Practitioner Visit Card provides for eligible individuals to visit a participating GP service without fees and also covers visits to GP out-of-hours service.
The HSE Counselling in Primary Care Service (CIPC) is for people with mild to moderate psychological difficulties. It is a short-term counselling service that provides up to eight counselling sessions with a professionally qualified and accredited Counsellor/Therapist. It is a service for medical card holders, who are 18 years of age or over, and who require help with psychological problems that are appropriate for time-limited counselling in Primary Care. It is not available to GP Card holders.
The development of all aspects of mental health services remains a priority for Government. Mental health services, including those for young people, have benefited from significant additional investment over recent years. This has resulted in an overall provision of €1.026 billion for the HSE Mental Health care programme in 2020, reflecting an increase of €315m since 2012 and an increase of €39m over 2019.
Any new service proposals have to be assessed in light of various factors. These include the spectrum of other existing counselling services provided either directly or on behalf of the HSE, emerging new service priorities in the health sector, and overall resource availability taking into account competing demands for health services over 2020 or beyond. In this context, I will keep in mind the proposal raised by the Deputy.