Munster MEP Phil Prendergast has welcomed the clarity provided by Minister of State Alex White on plans to provide free GP care for all in the lifetime of this Government.
She said suggestions by people like Sinn Fein that the plans to provide free GP care had been abandoned were disingenuous to put it kindly, and the reiteration by White that the scheme will indeed go ahead, is a positive development.
She added - â€œFree GP care was a key Labour commitment before the 2011 election and remains a keystone in the drive towards healthcare reform as outlined in the Programme for Government.
It was originally envisaged that rolling out free GP care to people with long-term illnesses would be the first phase of the scheme, but unfortunately, significant legal concerns have arisen over that course of action, and so there has been a rethink.
This is certainly disappointing, particularly from the point of view of the 60,000 patients with long-term illnesses, and itâ€™s not quite clear why it took over two years to come to this conclusion. However, it is better that the problem was identified in advance, rather than letting this turn into a major crisis at a later stage.
There is no doubt that people are genuinely struggling to pay for primary care, and the provision of free GP care will be the first step on the road to healthcare access for all. Alex White has promised to present a memo to Government on the implementation of free GP care before the Summer, and I look forward to seeing that documentâ€.