Free GP care for under-12s faces delays
The introduction of free GP care for the under 12s-is facing delays, due to protracted contract negotiations with family doctors.
The Irish Medical Organisation has refused to engage with the initiative, which was a key announcement in last month's Budget, until negotiations on a revised overall contract are completed.
These negotiations are expected to delay the implementation of free care for the under 12s until late next year.
The chairman of the IMO's GP committee Dr Padraig McGarry said: "There is no question of general practice being in a position to cope with a cohort of additional patients until such time as a new contract dealing with the needs of existing patients is completed."
The negotiations centre on how doctors will deal with existing patients with medical cards or doctor visit cards.
The impasse comes despite the Government promising to extend free care, currently available to children under the age of six, to all under-12s in the recent Budget.
Minister for Health Leo Varadkar and Minister for Primary Care Kathleen Lynch met with the Irish Medical Organisation about general practice issues.
The ministers reaffirmed the Government's commitment to the negotiation of a comprehensive new GP contract with the IMO.