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There's been a breakthrough in those talks on free GP care for kids

Negotiations took place between the Irish Medical Organisation, the HSE and the Department of Health.

Image: Shutterstock/Ahturner

Updated 18.15

AN AGREEMENT STRUCK by the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO), the HSE and the Department of Health is set to ensure free health care for the under 6s.

The doctors’ organisation today said that the deal represents the end of a cycle of cutbacks.

The IMO said the agreement covers a contract for the provision of GP services to under 6s, as well as a number of other “key issues”. It says the government will increase its originally mooted investment of €37 million to €67 million.

This will allow capitation fees of €125 for children under the scheme, rather than the €68.65 currently received. There will also be additional payments and supports which brings the price per patient up to €216 per child under 6.


Rival group, the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) has stated that it is not aware of the details of the new deal on free GP care for under 6s.

The group, which 1,200 members, was not involved in today’s agreement.

The NAGP has stated that it believes that the most appropriate method for bringing in universal care is raising the income threshold at which parents qualify for a full medical card. 

It has also said that the vast majority of its members do not support free GP care to under 6s as the best method of introducing free GP care to all.

New deal 

Under the new arrangements, children will be given preventative, wellbeing checks when they are two and five years old.

The sides also agreed to include extra fees for children who are asthmatic. This will involve years reviews of the patient.

Separately, funding of over €100 per diabetic patient per year has also been detailed as part of a GP Cycle of Care Programme for Diabetes.

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The agreement on these key areas comes after the IMO secured the right to represent GP members in negotiations. This was previously forbidden under “disputed terms” of the Competition Act.

It will still be up to individual GPs whether to accept the terms offered in the contracts. A special meeting will take place this weekend during the IMO’s annual general meeting.

Minister for Primary Care Kathleen Lynch said the deal marks a shift away from the old ‘illness model’, while Minister Leo Varadkar said it was a step towards universal health care.

“From this summer, up to 300,000 children and senior citizens who currently have to pay to see their GP will no longer have to. This will mean real savings for pensioners and families. But it is about much more than that. The new enhanced service covers all children under six including those who have medical cards already,” he added.

The HSE and the IMO also agreed that the extension of GP care to everyone aged 70 and over will take effect at the same time as the under-6 service.

With additional reporting from Michael Sheils McNamee 

- First published 13.30 

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