The free GP visits for children under the age of six scheme is officially in effect since July 1st. The scheme does exactly what it says on the tin – any children aged can avail of free GP visits to their local GP. The scheme should ease the pressure on many parents with sick children – the average cost of a visit to your local GP can run from €30 to €65 per visit. To-date more than 79,000 children have been registered, with at least 84% of GPs signing contracts. It’s certainly a worthwhile investment.
“This marks the first tangible step towards universal health care with the extension of GP services without fees to children under the age of six, and an enhanced and better-funded service for children under six who already have a medical or doctor visit card. The second step comes in August with the inclusion of people aged 70 or older. This will make a real difference to the youngest and oldest people in society,” said Minister for Health Leo Varadkar.
All children under six can now get free GP visits with their local GP. If your child’s birthday is this month, you should register quickly in order to be eligible for free visits until the end of the month.
Children will also benefit from age-based health assessments, in a bid to identify issues early, like obesity or disease, at ages 2 and 5. A number of factors, such as age, weight, height and gender will be recorded during these assessments, and health promotion advice and/or specialist service referral will be provided if needed.
In cases of diagnosed asthma, GPs will carry out annual reviews of the severity and medications, and will advise parents or guardians on how to improve their child’s asthma. A tailored plan will also be provided to help manage the asthma.
Home visits are also covered, as is out of hours urgent GP care.
It’s important to note that the new scheme doesn’t cover the cost of medications or hospital charges. If your child has a long term illness then you can apply for the Long Term Illness Scheme that will provide all medicines and treatments free of charge. Or, if you don’t have a medical card, families can apply for the Drugs Payment Scheme Card – under this initiative, individuals or families pay a maximum of €144 per month for approved medicines or appliances.
How can people avail of the scheme?
If your child is already in possession of a medical card or GP visit card, they will be automatically enrolled in the scheme.
If your child does not have a medical/GP visit card, you must register them with the HSE.
To register your child for the scheme you need the following:
- Child’s PPS number – if you haven’t got this, or if your baby is less than two months old, you can leave this section blank and the HSE will contact you at a later point to acquire this.
- Parent/guardian PPS number.
- Email address.
Once registered, details will be sent to your local GP, who has to accept you to his/her patient panel. Once confirmation is received, you will receive a GP Visit Card in the post. If your local GP isn’t accepting online registration you will be informed by email; print the GP Acceptance section of the email and bring it to them to complete.