Daly calls for free GP care for the under 5s to be prioritised in Budget 2014

Fine Gael Cork South West Deputy, Jim Daly, has today (Wednesday) called for any spare capacity in this year’s Budget to be used to speed up the introduction of free GP care for the under-fives.

“A central plank of the Fine Gael General Election campaign was healthcare and reforming the system to make it worthy of the Irish people. As part of this radical reform agenda, we committed to widening access to free GP care, as finances permit.

“While we cannot attempt to take our eye off the ball in terms of reducing our budgetary deficit to below 3% by 2015, we must also look at the best ways of allocating funding that becomes available to maximise the benefits for the hard-pressed citizen.

“If the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan TD, determines that there is spare capacity in the budgetary arithmetic accruing from the promissory note deal, I believe it should be used to speed up the introduction of free GP care for under 5 year olds.

“Minister Noonan has said that any such funds should be used for investment to create jobs and while getting people back to work has to remain a priority, I believe that focusing on free GP care for our toddlers would deliver a much needed break for parents, many of whom are struggling with work-life balance and who have taken their fair share of pain in successive budgets.

“Providing free GP care for under-fives will not only help alleviate the very significant strain being experienced by parents but will also serve to greatly enhance the health and well-being of the next generation by ensuring the very best start to life for our children.

“As any parent knows, some children need a considerable number of trips to the doctor during their early years. By providing universal access to primary care by removing fees for GPs care, as was committed to in the Programme for Government, we can lighten the load on parents and move one step closer to meeting our commitments to the Irish people.”