BY KIERAN O’MAHONY
SEVERAL more GPs in West Cork have signed up this week to the new free GP scheme for under 6s.
It was reported in The Southern Star last week that no doctors had signed up in Bandon, Skibbereen or Clonakilty and that West Cork was one of the country’s blackspots for the new free GP scheme.
However, a GP in Timoleague has this week joined the scheme, and it is expected that some practices in Clonakilty and Rosscarbery will sign up in the coming weeks. But sources say that some GPs are still refusing to commit to the scheme.
Two practices in Skibbereen – the Cork Rd Medical Centre and Skibbereen Medical Centre – have signed up this week. A spokesperson for the Skibbereen Medical Centre denied that patient feedback was the reason for the recent decision to co-operate with the controversial scheme, saying they had received no feedback whatsoever about the scheme from patients.
Bandon still remains one of the bigger West Cork towns that has seen no GPs at all signing up to the scheme.
‘There has been no change in the views of doctors in Bandon and their position remains the same,’ one local doctor told the Star.
‘It’s a fluid situation but there is also the fact that no one from the HSE has approached us or spoken to us about it,’ he added.
A total of 7,506 West Cork children are eligible for the free GP care from July 1st and the list of participating GPs is updated daily on the HSE website.
As part of the new scheme, children under six will be given age-based assessments, focused on health and well-being, identifying obesity and other problems early, and the prevention of disease.
These assessments will be carried out once – when a child is aged two – and again at age five, in accordance with an agreed protocol.
The service will also include an agreed cycle of care for children diagnosed with asthma, under which GPs will carry out an annual review of each child where the doctor has diagnosed asthma.
Parents are encouraged to visit the HSE website at www.gpvisitcard.ie for more details and to register their children for the new service, which starts on July 1st, but to also check if their own GP has signed up to the scheme.