Varadkar says 60% of GPs join free under-6 scheme

Uptake among GPs varies from 94% in Donegal to 8% in South Tipperary

Parents can register their children for the Under-6s Free GP Care from Monday, June 15th onwards. File photograph: Getty Images

Parents can register their children for the Under-6s Free GP Care from Monday, June 15th onwards. File photograph: Getty Images

 

Some 60 per cent of doctors have signed up to the scheme for free GP care for under-6s, Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has said.

Parents can register their children for the Under-6s Free GP Care from Monday June 15th onwards.

The scheme is due to commence on July 1st, after which time almost 300,000 children will be able to visit their GP free of charge.

Speaking on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics on Sunday, Mr Varadkar said 60 per cent of GPs nationwide had signed up to the scheme by close of business on Friday.

He said he expected two thirds of GPs to have signed up by the week’s end and for between 80 and 90 per cent to have joined the scheme by the end of the year.

Mr Varadkar said he expected some parents would move from GPs who choose not to sign up to the scheme, and that this would encourage more GPs to sign up over time.

‘Divide and conquer strategy’

Fianna Fáil spokesman on children Robert Troy accused the Government of employing a “divide and conquer strategy”, using one set of GPs to put pressure on the other to sign up to the scheme.

Figures released by the HSE on the afternoon of Friday, June 12th, showed huge regional variation in the uptake of the scheme among GPs, with 94 per cent having signed up in Donegal compared to just 8 per cent in South Tipperary, where just four of 51 GPs have done so.

Independent TD Denis Naughten said the “vast majority” of GPs that had signed up to date are in rural areas with a high proportion of older people and low number of children, “whereas the GPs that are in the densely populated areas where there are large numbers of children are less likely to sign up”.

PPS numbers

Parents of under-6s can register for the scheme online from Monday, for which they will require their own PPS number and that of their child.

Parents must choose their preferred GP as part of the registration process.

On its website the HSE advises that parents’ GP of choice “may not be listed if they have not signed the agreement to provide service to children under 6 years or if they are not accepting any further registrations” and encourages parents to “pick another GP”.

The HSE will continue to accept signed contracts from GPs and update the online list of participating doctors as necessary.

Parents who wish to register for the scheme can do so at gpvisitcard.ie.