Independent TD Mattie McGrath has described the statement by An Taoiseach that agreement had been reached in principle to extend free GP care to all over 70’s as a desperate political ploy that will escalate the already existing crisis in GP practices. Deputy McGrath made his comments after the Taoiseach confirmed during the Order of Business yesterday that extension of free GP only Medical Cards to the over 70’s will benefit those on the highest incomes, who will no longer have to pay to see their GP:
“There is something profoundly disjointed about this announcement by the Taoiseach. If we are meant to take it as some kind gesture of goodwill toward the Labour Party then it will fail spectacularly as a political gesture. How can they not see that we will be back here again decrying the chaos this will have caused and all for what, a short term boost to a decimated Labour Party? It is beyond absurd.
To hear the GP’s and their representative bodies describe this as incoherent is I think the kindest way of putting it. To my mind what the Taoiseach and the Cabinet, which I presume have sanctioned this, have done, is to add yet another layer of confusion and stress onto an already existing GP infrastructure that is still trying to come to terms with the debacle around the free under 6’s GP care.
We are actively lurching from one Medical Card crisis to another, all of which could not have done more damage if they were carefully orchestrated. At root they stem from the fact that there is a simply a total absence of any kind of vision for the health service that is not driven by a slash and cut approach to health budgets.
The needs of the people are a mere distant second in the process and this is clearly seen by the unwillingness of Government to listen to GP’s who have been shouting from the rooftops that the building is on fire. Instead what the Government have done with this gesture is to add more fuel to the fire and hastened the demise of effective GP care throughout the Country.
It needs urgent reconsideration and a far more targeted approach than the very scattershot one we have had to date,” concluded Deputy McGrath.