LESS than a third of GPs in Limerick have signed up to a contract to provide free visits to all children under the age of six, new figures reveal.
Figures released by the HSE confirmed that Limerick has the fourth lowest sign-up rate in the country, with only 32 GPs agreeing to the new contract, which kicks in next month.
With 29% of Limerick doctors signed up to the contract, the city and county is joint-fourth lowest in the country, alongside Meath and West Cork.
South Tipperary has the lowest amount of doctors signed up, at 8%, with just four agreeing to the new scheme, which was launched by Minister for Health Leo Varadkar.
Nationally, a total of 1,279 doctors have signed up, which is little over half the number of GPs in the 26 counties.
Some local doctors are opposed to the new scheme that starts in July as it will provide free visits to all children regardless of their parents’ income.
However, it is believed that the HSE is hoping that those GPs who are not signed up will do so, as they may run the risk of losing patients.
According to the HSE, an online registration system for parents with children under the age of six starts today, in order to facilitate commencement for the new scheme, which begins on Wednesday, July 1.
The scheme, which is an agreement between the Government and the Irish Medical Organisation, will reportedly benefit up to 270,000 children all across the country.
Donegal has the highest number of sign-ups with a total of 83 doctors agreeing with the new scheme, out of 89 in the county, which is 93% of all its doctors. Ninety percent of Roscommon’s doctors have signed up to the new scheme, while Longford and Westmeath have 81% of its doctors agreeing with the new contracts.