Press Release - For immediate release
Reform Jersey maintains free GP visit policy despite Jersey Consumer Council findings
Jersey’s only political party has rejected claims recently made by the Jersey Consumer Council that the public do not want to see free access to GPs for all Islanders due to potential “abuse” of the system.
Reform Jersey party leader Deputy Sam Mézec said “I don't think that anyone can seriously claim that a forum where only 54 people took part can possibly give us any indication of what Island-wide opinion from all social groups is. The numbers alone give me cause to believe the findings are unrepresentative. We also were not given the questions those people were asked to examine if they were leading questions or if the full picture was given.”
“The council was right to identify that we would not want to promote people abusing the system, however we have to remember that the current system ends up forcing people to put off addressing their illnesses at an early stage, when it is cheaper to treat, because of worrying about paying to see a doctor. These people often end up using A&E instead, where it ultimately costs the taxpayer much more to see them than if they had been to see a GP in the first place.”
“One's health is of paramount importance and whilst some sectors of society may be willing and able to pay, it is also true any charge to see a GP can act as a disincentive, especially for the increasing number of people who do not have the luxury of disposable income. And for them, seeing a doctor should not be a luxury, but a right” added fellow Reform Jersey member Deputy Montfort Tadier.
“We welcome the progress that has been made with some surgeries now voluntarily offering free visits to certain age groups, but ultimately we want to see appointments free for all Islanders, funded by raising the social security cap on high earners.”
In the United Kingdom people have the ability to see a GP for free. It is often claimed that this leads to longer waiting lists, however this varies across the country, where the determining factor is actually how well funded the local scheme is and how many GPs they actually employ, rather than the principle of free GP appointments itself.
Notes to the editor
- Reform Jersey party policy is to move towards scrapping fees for GP visits altogether, with immediate steps made towards abolishing fees for those on low incomes, pensioners, children and those with chronic illnesses.
- Reform Jersey would pay for this by raising the social security cap on high earners, asking the well off to share the burden instead of forcing hardship on those who are struggling to get by.