Kenny says Government still plans free GP care

Updated: Wednesday, 08 May 2013 22:10

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said the Government is committed to providing free GP care in its first term.

Mr Kenny was speaking in the Dáil as he faced criticism from the Opposition for the Government's failure to deliver on its pledge to extend free GP care to almost 60,000 people with long-term illnesses.

The Taoiseach said Minister of State Alex White is examining the scheme and will report back to Government at the end of May.

Earlier, Minister White said he will deliver a costed and phased plan on how to achieve free GP care before the summer.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Mr White said it was no secret that legislation to extend GP cards to patients with long-term illnesses had run into difficulty.

Mr White said that rather than getting "bogged down" in what he called a complicated legal structure for one element of the plan, he had suggested that the Government take a step back in order to examine the plan in its entirety.

He denied that two years had been wasted in attempting to extend GP cards on the basis of illness rather than means, which would be a new departure.

The Opposition has also been critical of Minister for Health James Reilly, with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin saying he was not the man for the job.

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Mr Martin said that very clear promises were given on universal primary care in the Programme for Government and that two deadlines have been missed.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said the Taoiseach's loyalty to James Reilly was laudable, but surely he had to admit that his tenure has been an unmitigated disaster.

Mr Kenny said he would be the first to admit that there are a number of items in the Programme for Government that are not deliverable, but free GP care was not one of them.

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