Young people in Jersey look set to get free visits to the doctor following a narrow victory for Reform Jersey in the States Assembly.
An amendment to the Government Plan, submitted by Reform Deputy Carina Alves, was passed by just one vote. It now forms a part of the overall plan, which will be agreed by the island's politicians in the coming days.
Yesterday, the States Assembly narrowly voted by 24 votes to 23 to support the proposition to allocate £800,000 in funding so that visits to the family doctor would be free-of-charge for all under 18s.
Deputy Alves estimated that the 17,500 Islanders aged 17 or under would visit a doctor, nurse or healthcare assistant at a GP surgery twice a year, on average, at a fee that was currently around £22.
In the report accompanying her proposition, Deputy Alves said: "The current primary care system is unaffordable to many and inaccessible to many children young people who may be in dire need of G.P. services to address their physical and mental health needs after the pandemic.
"Some who are ill may put off that visit to the doctor until they are so ill that they need far more expensive hospital treatment. For many, the recent times have seen largely struggle and debt as jobs and hours have been lost and family 'The last thing we should be doing is to add the stress of high doctor’s bills to the anxiety many are suffering as they try to make ends meet in these times of hardship."
Deputy Alves proposition now forms part of the amended Government Plan, with the debate continuing and a vote on the overall plan expected tomorrow.
Another Government Plan amendment brought by a member of Reform Jersey was defeated by 32 votes to 14. Deputy Geoff Southern had wanted £6.5m to be allocated for a scheme to allow Islanders with two or more chronic illnesses to receive GP consultations at a reduced rate.
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The taxpayer will be footing the bill once again!