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Proposal to cut GP appointment fee to £10 for Islanders most in need

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FEES to see GPs could be reduced to £10 for those most in need, if the States approve an amendment to the Government Plan.

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Deputy Geoff Southern, on behalf of the Island’s only political party, Reform Jersey, has lodged a proposition which would cut GP fees for children under five, expectant mothers, over-65s and those on income support. The St Helier Deputy said the move, if approved, would stop people from being put off from going to the doctor because of the cost.

Currently, the average consultation fee is around £42, with studies finding some Islanders go to the Hospital instead of their GP because of the expense.

Reform Jersey’s proposal to cut the fee for certain Islanders would cost an estimated £3.6 million per year between 2020 and 2023. The money would come from the Health Insurance Fund, which according to the proposition is growing by £9 million per year.

Deputy Southern said: ‘We have fallen into the trap here in Jersey for a long time. This is a long overdue move.

‘The HIF is in the black and will be for a few years, so this should come from that. It is what it is there for.

‘It will run to 2023, by which time we will have come up with a solution to fund it beyond that.

‘People have come to us and said that they don’t go to the GP because it is too expensive – this will change all that.’

Children and Housing Minister Senator Sam Mézec, who said that he had been approached by Islanders who could not afford to go to the doctor, said the pledge was from the party’s manifesto before last year’s election.

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When asked if it was something that could stretch to all Islanders eventually, Deputy Southern said it was a possibility in the future.

He added: ‘We need to do something on this. It is needed.

‘We didn’t want to put it to zero because everyone would go for it and it would then have long waiting lists.

‘There will be some serious negotiation done when it goes through, to make sure there is money there beyond 2023.’

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