Ministers are being challenged to put their election promises into action to bring down the costs of visiting a doctor.
Responding to Social Security Minister Susie Pinel’s warning that her department could not fund a major increase in children’s visits to GPs, Deputy Geoff Southern says she is being irresponsible and alarmist.
“We all know that the cost of GP visits is too high and puts off many from seeing the doctor when they should,” he said. “Along with my Reform Jersey colleagues, I campaigned to bring down GP fees in the last election and we were joined in this pledge by most of those who now serve on the Council of Ministers. We say it is time to put those promises into action.”
Earlier last week, Deputy Pinel said if more surgeries were to join the four already offering free appointments for children, Social Security could not pay for a surge in demand. The department is obliged to pay GPs a subsidy £20.28 for each appointment.
Deputy Southern says the Minister’s claim that there is nothing left in her budget is not only alarmist, but also not true.
“The facts are that the cost of the payments to GPs is met by the Health Insurance Fund paid for by 2% contributions to Social Security. This fund is ring-fenced to pay for primary care costs almost entirely made up of GP visits - £8 million - and prescription costs - £18 million - in 2013.
The minister, having spent the previous three years as assistant minister, must surely be aware of this, he added.
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