New information released to Fianna Fáil Primary Care spokesperson John Brassil shows that between 1st April and the 30th June a total of 863 additional people were granted GP Visit Card eligibility, after the financial threshold for applicants was increased.

The GP Visit card was introduced in 2006 when Fianna Fáil was in government. The card allows people to visit a participating family doctor (GP) for free.

“Budget 2019 announced a 10% increase across all GP Visit Card weekly income thresholds. This was in keeping in line with the Sláintecare report which recommended that eligibility for free GP care should be extended on the basis of income”, said Deputy Brassil.

“New figures released to me show that there were 508,859 GP cards in circulation at the end of March, which would indicate that the 10% increase in the income threshold only resulted in a 0.17% increase in the number of cards.

“This seems incredibly low, and leads me to believe that people may not be aware that they could be eligible for the card. I think it is incumbent on the HSE to step up its efforts to make people aware of this change.

“If we want to place an emphasis on primary care and embed it as the first point of contact in health care we need to make it more accessible. This was one of the main reasons that the extension of the GP visit card was rolled out. There is now an onus on the HSE to ensure that those who qualify for it know about it”, concluded Deputy Brassil.