ALMOST 600 parents who attempted to register their children for free GP visits have been turned down by the doctor of their choice.
The GPs are likely to have not signed up for the scheme, which comes into effect next Wednesday, or to already have full patient lists.
Health Minister Leo Varadkar confirmed yesterday that any parent whose child has been turned down by three GPs will be assigned a doctor by the HSE. Asked if the fact that more than 200,000 under-sixes, who are eligible for free visits, have yet to be registered was reflective of a lack of interest, he said he was pleased with the registration of over 60,000 children so far.
"My general impression is that parents will wait until their child needs to see the doctor. We would expect more to sign up in the next couple of months," he said.
He again ruled out meeting the 42 GPs in south Tipperary who have decided not to sign up for the scheme.
A HSE spokeswoman said that 63,500 children were registered with a GP as of yesterday. The number of participating GPs has risen to 1,982, 82pc of the total.
She added that 21 of the 32 HSE local health offices already have 80pc or more of their GPs signed up to deliver this service.
"In some areas such as Donegal, Galway, north Cork and Waterford, very high numbers of GPs have signed (up). The only area recording a low level of service provision to date is South Tipperary at 19pc."
Parents will still be able to register children for this new service after Wednesday. However, the HSE said they should register their children on www.gpvisitcard.ie as soon as they can to ensure they have easy access to the service when they need it.
It is very hard to name a moment in the history of the Irish State when significant public system change was brought in by vested interests. It is even harder to recall any time when a majority of doctors in Ireland embraced positive health system reform upon its introduction.