Free GP Care: nothing but a vote seeking exercise from a Government on dodgy ground.

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By Sean McNicholas

Over the last few months the debate has raged between public and medical personnel alike about the free GP care for every child under 6 in the state. Is it a good start to improve our health system or is it a case of a government losing support in the polls with a General Election looming large ? Unfortunately it’s the latter.

There are many families in this country a long time before now who have had free GP care. Most are due to unfortunate circumstances, such as income, single parent families or some other reasons. Yes, of course there are many families just above the line in terms of income who have found it very difficult to get by over the last number of years of austerity but now I believe many of these families will abuse this service, and the fact that it is free, and bring their young child to the doctor who has nothing more than the sniffles or a cough, symptoms experienced by many over the last few years.

Then there is also the case of those on the upper scale of the pay ladder, who earn 250k + per annum, with their 4 BMWs in the garage, their 10 bedroom house in Dublin, holiday home abroad, who can now also walk into the GP’s surgery with their child of under 6 years old who has a small cut on his or her knee, for one reason, because it’s free. Making the richer, richer. Where have we heard that before?

What this new service the government is offering is nothing more than a cover-up as to how bad our health service really is, take for example mental health and disability. Two areas of our health system which have been savagely and inhumanely cut over the last 10 years or so. The only problem is that these issues don’t impact on the lives of enough people to swing an election.

Firstly the mental health service in this country operates between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. If a person has a nervous breakdown or other mental health issue at 530pm on a Friday they are brought to A&E and then sent home for the weekend in the majority of cases, irrespective of condition. We need a Mental Health Service that operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and therefore the government must put more money into the service.

Secondly, the disability sector in this country needs more, much more time and money put into it. Nobody, similar to the mental health sector, asked to be disabled but they deserve as much opportunity as anyone else to have a life, to live it to the full, independently and without the kind of barriers they currently face. In the current situation, everything is a struggle, looking for a medically suitable bed is a struggle, looking to make your home wheelchair accessible is a struggle, looking for as much as a taxi is nigh-on impossible. Many charities who seek to improve the lives of people with disability, like, Irish Dogs for the Disabled, do not get as much as a red cent from the government to make such a difference to the lives of people. They help children to walk for the first time, and others to have an independence that this government doesn’t want to give them.

Over the last number of years the people of this country have suffered greatly, but when things start to improve, you must look at what sections of society need it the most and not waste unneccessary money on services that are not in a life or death situation.

This government has proven over the last few months that they are like a 5 year old child, getting pocket money for the first time. They can’t wait to bring it to the sweet shop and spend it, on things that the country could live without for another few years.

Now free GP care is been discussed for those over 70 years of age and the stick of the old Fianna- Fail “one for everyone in the audience” is as strong as ever. Let’s hope an Taoiseach calls an election before everyone gets free GP care and whatever small money we have now is thrown into the wrong sector of society and wasted all over again.