Strong Westmeath participation in GP under-six scheme

There has been a strong uptake of the free care scheme for under sixes among doctors in Westmeath and surrounding counties.

Figures from the HSE reveal that 86 per cent of GPs in Westmeath and Longford have signed up to offer the service, which provides free doctor visits to children under six years of age. This translates to a total of 68 doctors across the two counties.

The figures for Offaly and Laois are similar to Westmeath, at 87 per cent.

The total uptake across the HSE Dublin/Mid-Leinster region is 75 per cent. The low figure is influenced by the relatively low participation rates among doctors in some areas of Dublin - for example in Dún Laoghaire only 55 per cent of GPs are signed up, and 60 per cent in Dublin South City.

Roscommon, which is part of the HSE West region, has the highest uptake in the entire country, with 97 per cent of GPs - a total of 31 - taking part.

Nationally, a total of 2,283, or 82 per cent of the country's GPs, have signed up to the scheme and are providing the free service to 367,000 children. A remaining 495 GPs have not.

The figures were published in the Irish Independent this week, amid concerns that parents who wish to avail of the scheme for their children are facing “a postcode lottery”.

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