Someone call a doctor! Not sure who to call? If you’re feeling ill in Ireland, be sure to register with a GP. Not sure how to do so? Read below for more information!
If you’re under the weather in Ireland you should go visit a General Practitioner (GP). Also known as a family doctor, GP’s provide health care services to individuals outside of hospital care. There are over 2,500 GP’s in Ireland working in group practices, single practices, primary care centres, and health centres around the country. GP’s provide a broad range of services including advice on health problems, vaccinations, examinations and treatment, prescriptions, and referrals for specialist services, as well as other health and social services.
GP Visit Cards
What is it/what does it cover?
The GP Visit Card scheme provides access to GP services free of charge for individuals who did not qualify for a medical card based on their income but the cost of visiting a GP is still considered to be too high to manage. This card allows individuals and families to visit a family doctor for free. It also covers in-patient and out-patient public hospital services associated with a medical condition, but there are some hospital charges card holders may be required to pay.
Who can Apply for a GP Visit Card?
All individuals who are not entitled to a medical card, has legal rights to live in Ireland, and intends on living in Ireland for more than one year, even though they are working full time may be entitled to a GP visit card. This includes:
- Asylum seekers
- non-EU members
- EU citizens
You will need your GNIB and/or your PPSN to apply.
Everyone who applies for a GP Visit Card will be means tested by the HSE. This means test is similar to that of the medical card, however guidelines are 50% higher. Overall, you will qualify for a GP Visit Card if the income of your household is less than the guidelines defined by the HSE. As with the medical card, the HSE will consider:
- Total income
- Properties and investments
- Childcare costs
- Rent/mortgage repayments
If the HSE determines that, after tax and PRSI [Pay Related Social Insurance] your income will not be enough to cover GP visits or the cost of said visits will cause undue burden onto you and your family, they will issue you a GP Visit Card at their discretion.
How to apply for a GP Visit Card:
If you are under 70 years of age, the application process is much the same as the process for a medical card. You can apply online for a GP Visit Card here. You can find more information here.
If you are 70 years of age or older, you can register for a GP Visit Card online here. Or you can download a registration form here and send it to the address above. If you are 70 years of age or older and have a dependent under 70, and you believe your income falls below the limit, you can apply for GP Visit Cards for both of you. To do this, use the standard medical/GP Visit card application form and include details of your income. For more information on dependents of persons aged 70 or older, click here.
The HSE asks that you keep your circumstances up to date by periodically completing an online review form. If you do not supply this information, your card may not be re-issued. If you complete the review form by the HSE specified date but the review process extends beyond your card’s expiry date, your card’s validity may be extended so that you may continue to use it. This extension is on a monthly basis, therefore it is advised that you contact the Client Registration Unit to confirm that your card has been extended and you may continue to use it.
How to find and choose a GP
There are both public and private practices in Ireland where you can find a GP. Private health services are provided by individual healthcare individuals/companies but you will be required to pay for the full cost of consultation/treatment. You can take out private health insurance to help with the costs of private healthcare.
Public health services supported by the HSE are often free of charge but in come cases they may require payment of a fee. You are covered by public health services if you have been living in Ireland for at least one year or you intend to do so. This status is called being ordinarily resident in Ireland.
To Find a GP in your area, consult the HSE Service Finder Map.
When are GP practices open?
The hours that GP offices are open vary. Most family doctors operate on a 9am-5pm basis Monday to Friday. If you need to visit a GP outside of their normal working hours you must contact the Doctor on Call (DOC). This may incur a fee. It is important to note that some practices offer walk-in consultations while others are by appointment only. You should contact your GP’s surgery for more information before paying a visit.
Sometimes doctors operate their own 24 hour service and will arrange a house call at any time of day but again, this will most likely incur a fee. Doctors who perform out of hours appointments and visits usually charge €10 or more than the regular fee at a GP practice. For more information, contact your local practice.
The cost of visiting the GP
Each GP practice has a different visiting fee. If you are a GP Visit Card holder it is likely that the cost will be covered. If you are not a GP Visit Card holder and the expense is not covered by your private health insurance, the cost usually ranges between €40 – €60. If your doctor requires extra tests (i.e. a blood test etc.) you will have to pay an extra charge. You have to consult your local GP practice on information for further charges.
Group Practices in Ireland
About 30% of GP’s practicing in Ireland work in group practices of 3 or more doctors. Some also work within health centres which provide maternity care, cervical smears, and breast cancer screening, vaccinations, physiotherapy, chiropody, and more. If your doctor is a part of one of these group practices, when they are absent you will be treated by another doctor unless you would like to wait until your personal GP returns.
Changing your GP
While you are living inIreland you may choose to switch to another GP in the same area. Be careful in your reasoning for another GP as ‘disagreements’ with a GP tends to cause wariness across medical professionals. A legitimate reason for switching GPs could be wishing to be treated by a doctor of the oposite sex etc. If you would like a second opinion on a health matter, you may ask to see another doctor or specialist which most GP’s are happy to facilitate.
Next time your ill and you need advice, contact your GP! Have advice for those looking for a GP in Ireland? Comment it below!