Gov must not miss opportunity to build national primary care system in Budget

05 October 2018

Labour Party Health spokesperson, Alan Kelly TD, has said that the Government must not miss the opportunity to build a national primary care system in next week’s Budget.

Deputy Kelly said:

The Labour Party has consistently advocated for investment in primary care, and introduced free GP care for children under the age of 6 and those over 70. A national primary care system was a central pillar of the cross-Party plan, Sláintecare.

“While we are waiting for the Department of Health to figure out how they will implement Sláintecare, the Government could extend and expand the primary care system in Ireland. 

“In Labour’s Alternative Budget, I have proposed again to fund significant investment in primary care starting with a €25m investment in further primary care centres and diagnostics.

“For two years we have been waiting on the Minister to strike a deal with GPs on a new contract. GPs play an important role in our health care system. We want them to play a greater role too. We want to them to enhance the services they offer. We want them to displace some of the burden on the hospital sector. Labour has allocated an additional fund of €40m in 2019 to provide for a restoration of fees over three years. 

“To date we have seen free GP care provided to the youngest and oldest in our society. It is frustrating that the Government doesn’t seem to care that much about providing free GP care for those in-between. In our Alternative Budget, we have allocated funds for free GP care for children up to 18 years old. This will go a long way to help families who are spending on average €165 per year on healthcare.

“Rather than implementing tokenistic tax cuts next week, the Government could and should be investing money into our healthcare system in a smarter way. The Universal Social Charge when it was introduced replaced the Income Levy and the Health Levy.Again this year Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil will seek to reduce this. The Labour Party is proposing that the USC should be renamed the Health Contribution to protect it from further reduction, and commit any further growth in revenues to our health service. This would provide a direct reminder to people on their pay slips that a portion of their taxes goes directly to our public health service.”

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