A new study published today (7 November) highlights the importance of access to GP care regardless of ability to pay. It also assesses the increased demand associated with free GP care, providing important evidence for policy on further extensions in free GP care.
The Growing Up in Ireland study found that children’s use of GP services increased when they became eligible for free GP care. Among children who did not have access to free GP care, the study found that children from higher income families were more likely to visit their GP.
The study was carried out on data collected before the extension of free GP care to children under 6 in 2015.
Anne Nolan, Associate Research Professor at the ESRI, commented: “Chronic ill-health can be a lifelong burden for the child, their family and the wider community. Early intervention is critical as health in early life is linked to outcomes in later life, including education and employment. For this reason, it is important to understand how the financing system for healthcare in Ireland can restrict children’s use of GP services.”
This report was published on the same day as the latest set of Key Findings, focusing on children aged 7/8 in Ireland. The press release for this report is available to read here.
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