Minister for Health, Simon Harris, and Minister of State for Disabilities, Finian McGrath, joined carers Moira Skelly and Rosemary Kratzchmer (both from Dublin) today at Bewley’s on Grafton Street to encourage carers to register for their free GP Visit Cards at

From 1st September 2018 onwards, an additional 14,000 carers will be eligible for free GP services. Registration is now open and applies to carers who are currently in receipt of either full or half rate Carer’s Allowance or Carer’s Benefit, and who do not currently hold a medical or GP visit card.

The HSE has set up a safe, fast and convenient online system for carers to register for their free GP Visit Card on Paper registration forms are also available from local Citizen Advice Centres and available to download from the website. Completed registration forms will be processed within 15 working days.

Moira Skelly from Dublin cares for her daughter Ciara. Moria spoke about the impact that free GP care has on carers like her, all across the country: 

“I welcome this move as a step in the right direction. It is another step forward in recognising the very important role of carers in Ireland. Being a carer is more than a full time job, it is 24/7. My daughter Ciara is 23 years old and has intractable epilepsy, this means that medication won’t help control her seizures. Ciara’s intellectual and physical disabilities means she needs 24-hour care. It’s rare that I get a full nights’ sleep. It’s fair to say that I have been tired for 23 years! Like many carers I have given up working to look after Ciara. The reality of only having one income coming into the house is that you really have to watch your money. Caring for Ciara is physically very demanding, I wash her, dress and feed her. I would often put off going to the GP to get pains checked out. Having access to free GP services is a step in the right direction. It gives me one less thing to worry about.”

The Minister for Health, Simon Harris noted the important role that carers have in our community:

“I am delighted to be here today to encourage all eligible carers to avail of this new service.  Carers are the backbone of every community providing vital supports for their loved ones; this initiative allows us to now provide carers with the health supports that they require.  Availing of a GP visit card will enable the additional eligible carers to access GP services free of charge ensuring that their own physical, mental and emotional well-being is protected”.

Minister of State for Disabilities, Finian McGrath, thanked Moira and Rosemary and all carers for the vital care that they provide: 

“Carers like Moira and Rosemary have devoted themselves to caring for their children, and today we want to take the opportunity to acknowledge the incredible work that carers do and to say thank you. We also want to ensure that carers themselves receive our support, and I am delighted that we have been able to ensure that 14,000 extra carers can now visit their GP for free.” 

Ms Anne Marie Hoey, Assistant National Director, HSE Primary Care Reimbursement & Eligibility encouraged carers to register online:

I am so pleased that following the Government decision more than 14,000 carers, who previously did not qualify on means or age grounds for a GP visit card, are now eligible for free GP care. Registration is now open and I would encourage all carers to complete the easy-to-use online registration process at, or alternatively register for this scheme using the relevant paper registration form. All carers who currently hold a Medical Card or GP Visit Card from a previous application keep this eligibility.”

Further information is available at or by calling 1890 252 919 (Mon-Fri: 8am to 8pm).