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Table 3 Key features of the Irish primary health care system

From: ‘Potentially inappropriate or specifically appropriate?’ Qualitative evaluation of general practitioners views on prescribing, polypharmacy and potentially inappropriate prescribing in older people

 • Mixed public and private funding
 • Mixed eligibility based on means-testing of income:
   General Medical Scheme (GMS) card holders (approx. 40 % of population) entitled to free medical visits but pay a small levy for dispensed medications
   ■ All those aged ≥70 years are automatically eligible GMS since August 2015
   Doctor visit card (DVC) holders are entitled to free GP visits but pay for prescriptions in full
   Private patients pay in full for GP visits and dispensed medications
 • GPs must transcribe hospital prescriptions to GMS scripts for patients to receive prescription medication for free (subject to prescribing levy)
 • GPs are self-employed and are contracted by the State to provide services to certain populations (e.g. GMS card holders)
 • No national register of GPs but it is estimated that there are roughly 2,500
 • Routine auditing of prescribing activity does not take place as it does in countries such as the UK, where most prescribers are supported by pharmaceutical advisors