Dáil Éireann - Volume 454 - 14 June, 1995

Written Answers. - GMS Drugs Scheme.

108. Ms O'Donnell asked the Minister for Health the plans, if any, he has to introduce a monitoring committee to ensure that the General Medical Service indicative drugs prescription scheme does not discriminate against poorer patients. [10994/95]

Minister for Health (Mr. Noonan, Limerick East): The indicative drugs prescribing scheme has been put in place after extensive consultations and agreement with the Irish Medical Organisation.

In discussion with the Irish Medical Organisation, in the context of the 1992 GMS review it was agreed that, in common with other developed countries, medicines are not always prescribed in the most effective manner in this country and that, accordingly, there was significant potential for an improvement in prescribing practice leading to better patient care and better use of the resources in the development of general practitioner services.

Accordingly each doctor was encouraged to examine his/her existing prescribing practices with a view to availing of any available opportunities to make prescribing more effective and less costly for all his/her patients. To [928] assist in this process doctors were provided with indicative drug targets which had been constructed on the basis of average prescribing costs weighted on the basis of age and sex.

The duty and obligation of individual doctors to provide the most appropriate management for each patient who presented and, in so doing, to utilise resources available for the optimum care of patients individually and collectively was emphasised by all parties to the scheme. In this context the right of the doctor to prescribe as he/she considers necessary remains absolutely in place and there is no limitation on the range of items from which he/she can choose to prescribe.

There are already satisfactory monitoring procedures in place which are operated by the Department and the health boards. There is no evidence that the scheme discriminates against patients or is adversely affecting patient care.