Article from the Irish Times (full article here):

Unless GPs join in the discounting craze, the days of paying self-satisfying visits for minor ailments are over, writes ORNA MULCAHY

THE COLD season has arrived in the office, along with packs of Lemsip, red-rimmed eyes, hacking coughs, sore-looking noses and conspicuous swaddling in pashminas. Hot honey drinks are all the go, and there’s a lot less dashing off to the doctor during lunch hour. Too expensive – €60 or €70 for a visit to find out you have a viral infection for which nothing can be done? No thank you. Another €15 for antibiotics that will have no effect whatsoever? I’ll try some Echinacea instead.

GPs must be feeling the pinch, but where are their special offers, now that discounting is the name of the game? Say three for two on sick children, or buy one consultation, get the next half price.

What about four tests of your choice and the fifth one free? Perhaps the GPs should consider it, if their waiting rooms are looking a little sparse. After all, if the price of so many other services is coming down, why shouldn’t health follow suit?

“We’re not shopkeepers or merchants,” said a consultant friend frostily when I asked her whether doctors should offer deals. “There is no Lidl or Aldi equivalent in the medical profession. If there was, people would really have something to complain to Joe Duffy about.”

Meanwhile, another friend who is married to a doctor took exception to the man who came to light her Aga after it had gone out, ranted about the costs of doctors’ visits at €55 a pop, and charged her almost three times that to set a match to the cooker.

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