More than 70% of the population in the Republic of Ireland have to pay to see their GP, as well as prescription charges and Health Care Costs. More than one in four sick people are deterred from visiting their GP as a result.
Costs to see a GP range from anywhere between €45 – €75, to call out an ambulance can cost anywhere from €100, as can a hospital stay. Add to that prescription charges and illness can be a very hefty expense for those not on state benefits. There is a medical card system in place, however the weekly income threshold for granting to those in employment is relatively low, while those on benefits who earn above the threshold are granted automatic entitlement.
Today’s Sunday Independent carries the story of 9 year old Lucy O’Connor, who, has had her appeal for a discretionary medical card to fund treatment refused. Lucy has a rare Type B Lymphoma, and this week has not been able to get out of bed due to sickness and exhaustion. It’s a horrific story, and likely alien to most people in Northern Ireland. Interestingly, Lucy’s family would be better off on welfare than working.
Is this the sort of health service we want in Northern Ireland?