Move will aid parents: principal

Parents who cannot afford to take their children to the doctor will benefit from free GP visits and prescriptions announced in the Budget, Silverstream School principal Elizabeth Cleverley says.

By taking children to the doctor at the earliest possible opportunity, children were more likely to get well quickly.

She had talked to parents at the Mosgiel school about the cost of doctors' fees and pharmacy costs, Miss Cleverley said.

''Parents will say: 'We can't afford to'.

''They'll see it out, rather than going to the doctor.''

However, some in the medical profession are eyeing the policy with caution.

Mosgiel Health Centre GP Dr Hywel Lloyd said the programme must be adequately funded to ensure it proved a success.

''Historically, there have been concerns expressed by the profession that increases in funding over time have not matched the ever-increasing costs of providing quality primary care services.

''The remuneration will have to adequately reimburse current patient co-payments and also cover the increase in demand for services the policy will create.''

Access to free medical attention improved health outcomes and reduced inequality, Dr Lloyd said.

''We all desire improved healthcare for all.''

A press release from Health Minister Tony Ryall said the new policy would mean an extra 25,200 southern children could go to the doctor free.

At present, doctors' visits are free for children under 6.

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