14,000 carers to benefit from free GP care
by Niall Shanahan

The Department of Health is to draft legislation to allow 14,000 carers to benefit from free GP care. The legislation is to provide in law for eligibility for GP services without charge to be extended to all those in receipt of Carer’s Allowance or Carer’s Benefit.


Announcing that he had received Cabinet approval to draft the legislation earlier this month, Minister for Health Simon Harris said, "This Government recognises the need for further supports for those who are caring for the most vulnerable in our society.


“This measure will enable people who are in receipt of full, or half-rate, Carer’s Allowance or Carer’s Benefit to qualify automatically for GP care without fees. Carers willingly give up a great deal to provide care to family members and others, and I hope that this concrete support from the State for their mental and physical wellbeing will help alleviate some of the strain," he said.


Government plans to provide free GP visit cards, and additional spending on respite care, were announced last December.


The measures were welcomed by Family Carers Ireland. However, the family carers advocacy organisation said that, as only one in four carers actually receive Carer’s Allowance - mainly due to the means test - the group has called for all carers in receipt of the Carer’s Support Grant to receive the card, extending the service to 25,000 additional carers.


Further supports and information for carers are available from the HSE here.


Family Carers Ireland website.

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