Just 830 GPs have signed up to provide free care for under-sixes
Just 830 of the country's 2,700 GPs have so far signed up to give free visits to all children under six, it emerged yesterday.
Social Care Minister Kathleen Lynch said it was expected more doctors would sign up in the coming days. The original deadline for doctors to sign the contract was last Monday, but it was extended to next Friday following a court challenge by Co Clare GP Dr Yvonne Williams.
A register of participating GPs would be published from next month with the aim of starting the scheme in July, Ms Lynch told the Dáil.
GPs who join after the June 5 date would be accepted, she added.
Fianna Fáil health spokesman Billy Kelleher said: "Let us be honest - free GP care for the under-sixes does not appear to be getting off to a great start. Why has there not been a large uptake? Why are GPs not clamouring at the Minister of State's door to sign contracts?"
The National Association of General Practitioners, which criticised the plan, said: "We are also aware that there are huge areas of the country where all GPs have decided not to sign. There would seem to be considerable variance between that information and the figures presented by the minister. If correct, they are nothing to be proud of."