‘Free GP services is step in the right direction’

By Mary Dennehy

A MOTHER from Walkinstown who cares for her 23-year-old daughter in the home has welcomed a Government announcement that an additional 14,000 carers will be eligible for free GP services.

The decision means that more than 14,000 carers who previously did not qualify on means or age grounds for a GP visit card are now eligible.

Free GP visit cards Moira and Ciara 1

Moira Skelly with her daughter Ciara

Moira Skelly cares full-time for her daughter Ciara who has intractable epilepsy, a form of epilepsy whereby medication does not help control seizures.

According to Moira, who gave up work to care for Ciara, with only one wage coming into the house she often puts off going to the GP when she needs care herself.

“Ciara’s intellectual and physical disabilities means she needs 24/7 care,” Moira said.

“It’s rare that I get a full nights’ sleep.”

She added: “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.”

Carers are the backbone of every community

Moira last week joined Rosemary Kratzchmer, a carer also from Walkinstown, the Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, and Minister of State for Disabilities, Finian McGrath TD in Bewley’s on Grafton Street to encourage carers to register for their free GP Visit Cards.

Noting the important role carers have in the community, Minister Harris said: “I am delighted to be here today to encourage all eligible carers to avail of this new service. 

“Carers are the backbone of every community providing vital supports for their loved ones [and] this initiative allows us to now provide carers with the health supports that they require. 

“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.”

Registration is now open and applies to 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.

The HSE has set up a “safe, fast and conviencent” online system for carers to register or paper registration forms are also available from local Citizen Advice Centres.

Completed registration forms will be processed within 15 working days.

Visit www.mymedicalcard.ie for more.

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