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General Medical Services – Parliamentary Question

In a Parliamentary Question on General Medical Services (GMS) contract Minister Reilly said:

Under the General Medical Services (GMS) contract, it is the general practitioners (GPs) contracted responsibility to provide proper and necessary treatment to medical card and GP visit card holders.  In circumstances where the taking of blood is necessary to either (a) diagnose a patient or (b) monitor a diagnosed condition, the GP may not charge the patient if they are eligible for free GMS services under the Health Act, 1970, as amended.  The HSE points out that, in many GP surgeries, it is the practice nurse who takes blood samples.  The HSE significantly subsidises the cost of employing practice nurses.

At my request, the HSE has written to all GMS GPs reminding them of their obligations under their contract in this regard.  I would encourage patients to follow up with the HSE if they believe they are being wrongly charged for services by their GP and the matter will be fully investigated by the HSE.  Formal complaints will be dealt with through the HSE’s Consumer Affairs Service.  In a number of cases to-date, the GP has reimbursed their patients following receipt of correspondence from the HSE.

I appreciate that because of the nature of the GP/patient relationship, it may be difficult for patients to make such complaints.  Where public representatives are made aware of GPs charging GMS patients for blood tests, they may wish to notify the HSE directly.

View the full transcript on the Oireachtas website

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