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City GP now giving patient loyalty cards

IT'S a loyalty card that you won't want to use very often.

A GPs' surgery in Dublin city centre is giving patients a discount card entitling them to 10pc off their bill.

Grafton Medical Practice, at the junction of Grafton Street and South Anne Street, says it is a response to the pressure on incomes and a way to encourage people to come back.

"We are very keen to have a cohort of regular patients who come back to us rather than a lot of first-time, once-off patients.



Loyalty

"It's better to have a relationship with someone over time," the practice's Dr Keith Perdue told the Herald.

"We are aware that there has been pressure on everyone's income. We are giving better value to existing patients, that's the thinking behind it."

A nearby pharmacy has also accepted the card, giving customers a 10pc discount on Grafton Medical prescriptions.

Loyalty schemes are widely used by supermarkets, hotels and other businesses fighting for customers during these recessionary times.

To qualify for the Grafton Medical card, you have to be an existing patient of practice.



positive

"Once you have come once you are a patient here. You're on our books and on our records," the medic told the Herald.

"We've had a very positive reaction to it. A couple of people have smiled wryly and said even doctors are giving discounts," he said.

While other GPs are offering reduced fees, Grafton Medical is thought to be one of the few -- if not the only one -- giving out loyalty cards.

"We are in the city centre and we have overheads. We charge as little as we can. (The card) is a way of reducing costs for people. I don't know if (other doctors) have given cards but they have done similar things," Dr Perdue said.

"It can be quite expensive to see a doctor. Anything we can do to make it easier for people who access the medical care they need we are happy to do it," he added.

comurphy@herald.ie