Additional 14,000 carers eligible for free GP care

Additional 14,000 carers eligible for free GP care
File photo.

An additional 14,000 carers are eligible for free GP services.

Carers who are currently in receipt of either full or half rate Carer’s Allowance or Carer’s Benefit, and who do not currently hold a medical or GP visit card, are being urged to apply online.

"Carers are the backbone of every community providing vital supports for their loved ones; this initiative allows us to now provide carers with the health supports that they require," said Minister for Health, Simon Harris.

"Availing of a GP visit card will enable the additional eligible carers to access GP services free of charge ensuring that their own physical, mental and emotional well-being is protected."

The HSE has set up an online system for carers to register for their free GP Visit Card on www.mymedicalcard.ie.

Paper registration forms are also available from local Citizen Advice Centres and available to download from the website.

"I welcome this move as a step in the right direction," said Moira Skelly from Dublin, who cares for her daughter Ciara.

"It is another step forward in recognising the very important role of carers in Ireland. Being a carer is more than a full time job, it is 24/7.

"My daughter Ciara is 23 years old and has intractable epilepsy, this means that medication won’t help control her seizures. Ciara’s intellectual and physical disabilities means she needs 24-hour care.

"It’s rare that I get a full nights’ sleep. It’s fair to say that I have been tired for 23 years.

"Like many carers I have given up working to look after Ciara. The reality of only having one income coming into the house is that you really have to watch your money.

"Caring for Ciara is physically very demanding, I wash her, dress and feed her. I would often put off going to the GP to get pains checked out.

Having access to free GP services is a step in the right direction. It gives me one less thing to worry about.

Family Carers Ireland have welcomed the move but the organisation is disappointed that the scheme was not extended to include all family carers who are in receipt of the Carers Support Grant.

"We are hopeful that it will introduce preventative health measures by allowing carers attend annual medical checks with their GPs and look after their own health and well-being, something that they often ignore when providing full-time care for a loved one," said Catherine Cox of Family Carers Ireland.

The group is asking the Minister to extend the scheme to all full-time carers as a matter of urgency.


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