More than 90pc of GPs have signed up to free visits for under-sixes after crunch negotiations
More than nine in ten of the country's GPs have now signed up to provide free visits to children under six, new figures have revealed.
Around 33 GPs in south Tipperary who had put up the toughest resistance to the scheme, introduced on July 1, finally accepted contracts yesterday.
It means that 91pc or 2,187 of 2,404 GPs have agreed to provide the free visits to all under-sixes in return for a yearly capitation fee from the HSE.
The National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP), which opposed the scheme on the grounds it was unfair, said yesterday that "positive communication" had taken place with the HSE in recent weeks.
An NAGP spokeswoman said the "HSE has agreed to engage with the NAGP in relation to any matters that may arise relating to the operation of the contract".
South Tipperary GP Dr Martin Rouse said: "We now have an opportunity through engagement to lobby on behalf of our patients and we have been able to get clarification on issues which were discouraging us from signing.
"We have made the decision to sign to prevent further patient displacement. It has always been our objective to maintain the level of service that our patients have come to expect from us, and we look forward to the provision of the additional supports which will be essential to the delivery of this scheme."
He also welcomed the HSE's decision to recognise the NAGP's role as a GP representative body.
The lowest take-up remains in Dun Laoghaire in Dublin where just 76pc of GPs are signed up. Twenty of the 75 GPs have not joined the scheme.
In Dublin south city the take-up remains at 81pc, while it is still at 82pc in Kildare and West Wicklow and 87pc in west Cork.
Clonmel GP Dr Kevin Kelly - who signed up yesterday - said parents had been very supportive in recent weeks.
The real increase in visits is expected around October when children are back at school.