Fianna Fáil has dismissed the latest government kite-flying on GP care for under 18’s as ‘yet another election gimmick’.

The party was responding to yet another vague promise from the Health Minister Leo Varadkar at MacGill Summer School.  The Minister provided no detail on how the roll-out would be funded, at a time when the Government is taking over 16,000 more medical cards from the over 70s to cut costs. And the process would not begin until after the next general election.

Fianna Fáil candidate in Dublin West, Cllr Jack Chambers, said it’s nothing more than another stunt to win votes.

“It is clear that the Fine Gael election campaign is in full swing.  Leo Varadkar is trying to win an election by promising to extend GP care to under 18s.  Has he forgotten that his Government previously promised free GP care for all by 2016?  In reality the Minister is just confirming that he is way behind target,” said Cllr Chambers.

“Voters have learned from bitter experience that promises made by Fine Gael and Labour to win votes can be taken with a pinch of salt.  The coalition has broken a litany of promises that the public is now paying for.  The health service is in complete chaos due to gross mismanagement by former Minister James Reilly and the shocking hands off approach taken by Minister Varadkar.  Plans for Universal Health Insurance are in disarray with families facing huge hikes in costs.  The promise to cut prescription charges was scrapped, and instead charges have been increased five-fold.  And thousands more medical cards are being taken from the over 70s every year.

“Instead of tackling the serious chronic overcrowding in the country’s emergency departments and the never ending hospital waiting lists as promised, this Government has chosen to ignore that crisis and instead embark on a new round of empty promises.

“Leo Varadkar is an expert Minister for PR.  Rather than announce something new, he has once again diminished the expectations of the Government reaching its target of free GP care for all by 2016.  His entire focus is on managing the message – instead of managing the health service.”