Dáil Éireann - Volume 494 - 08 October, 1998

Written Answers. - General Medical Services Scheme.

71. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will make a statement on the situation whereby general practitioners are charging medical card holders a £20 fee for letters that they require to pursue claims with the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs. [17689/98]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen): Under the Health Act, 1970, health boards are required to make available, without charge, a general practitioner medical and surgical service to persons with full eligibility — namely, medical card holders. In accordance with the provisions of the Act, health boards enter into contracts with general practitioners — GPs — for the provision of these services under the general medical services — GMS — scheme.

The terms of the GMS doctors' contract are the subject of negotiation and agreement with the Irish Medical Organisation and provide that the normal sickness certificates and those examinations carried out prior to the issue of the first and final social welfare certificates are comprehended by the scheme and, as such, are available to GMS patients free of charge. Other certificates relating for example to driving licences, insurance and assurance policies and certain certificates relating to social welfare schemes which are not included in the GMS contract would be subject to a fee by GPs.