Health

Over 8,100 GPs and pharmacies sign up to administer free contraception

Budget 2023 allocated €9 million to provide free contraception to 17-25 year olds that hold a medical card.

Department of Health reveal vast bulk of GPs and clinics have submitted contracts for government scheme

By Seán Finnan

“This truly is a landmark scheme in the context of women’s healthcare,” says Health Minister Stephen Donnelly. Photo by Brian Lawless

Figures published by the Department of Health reveal that 3,500 contracts have been completed to allow GPs, pharmacies and other medical centres to take part in the Free Contraception Scheme, with a total of 4,700 applications still to be finalised. 

The introduction of the scheme in Budget 2023 allocated €9 million to provide free contraception to 17-25 year olds that hold a medical card.

The announcement was welcomed as a significant step forward by the National Women’s Council, but was recommended to widen its bracket to all women.

According to the scheme, Irish GPs and health facilities were free to decide whether to participate in the programme. The Department of Health has said that the vast bulk of general practitioners and medical centres in the state are already working under this scheme or are in the process of registration.

Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly admitted to being delighted at the ‘huge uptake’, as free contraception ‘was one of the main recommendations’ following the repeal of the 8th Amendment in 2018.

Health Minister Donnelly said, “This truly is a landmark scheme in the context of women’s healthcare in Ireland, and I would like to recognise and thank all of those who have worked hard to bring us to this point.”

The scheme, having already begun, is due to expand in the near future, with 26-year-olds due to receive free contraception from January 1, 2023. Those between 16 and 30 may be included from September 1, 2023.

The inclusion of 16-year-olds is subject to legal consultation, and requires ‘legislative amendments’, according to the Department of Health.

Find out more about Free Contraception Scheme.

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