People who come from countries outside the EU don’t know, but in Ireland, the first place to go when you get sick is to a GP.
A General Practitioner, or GP, is a doctor who works from a private surgery which is health board approved, rather than a hospital. There is no national register of general practitioners in Ireland, though the Medical Council is currently drawing up a specialist register of Irish GPs.
The GP plays a central role in the health care system and is often the first medical advice a person seeks when they feel unwell.
GPs provide a broad service to their patients on all health issues, and may refer patients to see specialists or hospital consultants if more specific investigation is required. That is because a GP or a Doctor it is the only one that can direct you to a specialist. If you go to a specialist by yourself, the price for consultation would be expensive.
In this way, GPs act as “gatekeepers” to the wider health system, such as hospitals and specialist clinics. Consultations cost around € 80. In public hospitals, even in an emergency, patients pay € 100 to be seen. If sent to hospital with a GP letter, however, the person does not have to pay for medical examination.
In general patients choose their doctor from a panel of doctors who are part of the scheme, provided the doctor is willing to have them as patients. The services must be provided by your own doctor, but there are arrangements for emergencies.
The GP is a private practise, and therefore cost around € 50. It is estimated that there are more than 2,500 GPs in Ireland. On www.icgp.ie/go/find_a_gp you can locate a GP near to you.