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Category: States Assembly

Scrutiny raises concerns about access to the Government’s GP scheme

Jun 06, 2023

Last Thursday (1 June), the Health and Social Security Scrutiny Panel (the Panel) held its second Quarterly Public Hearing of 2023 with the Minister for Social Security, Deputy Elaine Millar.

The Panel questioned the Minister about the scheme to reduce the cost of face-to-face GP appointments which was announced this week. The Panel raised concerns about the exclusion of phone consultations, home visits, and out of hours services from the scheme as it felt that this could exclude people who were the most unwell or vulnerable. The Minister responded that there was a need to focus “on where the greatest demand is”, adding that about one thousand people visit the doctor in Jersey every day. The Minister said that home visits were expensive and not efficient.

The Panel also expressed concern that the timelines for action set out in the Ministerial Delivery Plans last year were not necessarily being met after hearing that an amendment to the Income Support (Jersey) Law 2007 which had been scheduled for Quarter 2 of this year would not be brought forward by that time.

The Panel was also told that the deadline to apply for the Community Costs Bonus payment had been extended until the end of June. The payment was introduced to help households which are just above the Income Support level with the cost of GST on food and the Panel heard that the vast majority of eligible people had already claimed.

During the hearing, the Panel also heard the pilot scheme to make period products available for free was due to be extended to provide greater access to specific groups.

Deputy Rob Ward, Chair of the Panel, said: “The Minister’s announcement this week regarding the reduction in cost for face-to-face GP appointment fees was very welcome, but we are concerned that by not applying the same reduction to phone consultations, home visits, and out of hours services, some of the most unwell people on the Island could be disadvantaged. It was also concerning to hear that the timescales given in Ministerial delivery plans are not necessarily being met. It important for both the work of Government and Scrutiny for realistic timeframes for policy and legislative changes to be set and met.”

A full recording of the hearing can be accessed here.

States Assembly Press Notice.

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