Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health Billy Kelleher has called on Minister James Reilly to clarify if he intends to introduce new charges for the Government’s ‘free’ GP care scheme. Deputy Kelleher said it would “make a mockery of the principle of free GP care and would strongly suggest that the Government is making up its health policies as it goes along.”
Deputy Kelleher said: “Minister Reilly is on record saying that free GP care at the point of use means just that, free. But now we’re seeing this policy unravel in record time. Minister Alex White has indicated that the real plan is to hit families with new charges to access GP care.
“This highlights one of the major themes of the past three years – when it comes to the health service, this Government is making it up as it goes along. Minister White’s comment this morning that the issue of charging the public for ‘free’ GP care was “blue sky thinking” at the Labour party conference is very worrying. We’ve been hearing for months now that the Government’s plans on free GP care were well advanced, well thought out and were being implemented with consultation. If we’re still at the stage where a key element of the entire strategy is being subjected to ‘blue sky thinking’ at a political party event, these claims from Government have clearly been misleading.
“The mess at the centre of James Reilly’s policy agenda was thrown into sharp relief this weekend with the combination of this news and the confirmation that Universal Health Insurance is unravelling. Before James Reilly became Minister for Health he famously sought to reassure patients about his leadership and boldly guaranteed that ‘no one would pay more than they do now’. That was three years ago. The reality is they’ve steadily been paying more and more for health care ever since.”