Free GP care for children aged six and seven from today

Parents of children under the age of eight can now register for free GP visit cards

Parents can register children aged six and seven for free GP care from today, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has announced.

The GP visit cards are now available for all children aged under eight, in the first stage of an expansion of free GP care which will ultimately add 500,000 people to the scheme.

It will be followed by the expansion of free GP care to people earning up to the median income in September and November.

“I am delighted to announce that registrations for children aged 6 and 7 for the expanded Under 8s GP Visit Card scheme will open today, while current GP visit cards will be automatically extended until a child’s 8th birthday,” Mr Donnelly said.


“This expansion will provide free GP care to approximately 78,000 children aged 6 and 7 across Ireland who currently access GP care on a private basis.

“This will ensure that cost is not a barrier to accessing healthcare and provides vital support to families dealing with cost of living challenges. The move is an important step towards universal healthcare.”

Any child who turned six since July 1st will have their card automatically extended, and other parents can register on

A child must be registered and have their card before availing of the free appointments.

Increases of up to 10 per cent in the capitation grant paid to GPs for existing medical card holders, along with €30 million to help them recruit extra staff and €2 million for out-of-hours services, helped get the deal over the line with the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO).

It was announced in Budget 2023 but was delayed by opposition from GPs, who said they would be unable to cope with the additional workload. Long-running talks with the IMO were completed in June.

The measures, projected last year to cost €111 million, now have a pricetag of €130 million.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times