LATEST: New GP contracts could be partially introduced by Christmas says Health Minister

UPDATE 9am: The Health Minister says parts of the new GP contract should be finalised by Christmas.

Simon Harris wants to start phasing in the deal next year which means doctors will treat all children under the age of 12 for free.

His comments follow claims by GPs that they sometimes make as little as 80c for seeing a medical card patient.

Minister Harris is promising change but warns it will take time.

He said: "This is a massive project - remember the contract that we're operating off is over 40-years-old.

"I expect that by the end of this year we would have a number of proposals that we could roll out, that would see more resources go into general practice, but in return would also see more services provided in the GPs clinic."

EARLIER: GPs claim they are not getting enough money from the Government for treating medical card patients.

They say they get around €9 per month per person - but that could include multiple visits to the doctor.

That is according to the National Association of General Practitioners which has criticised figures released yesterday.

The latest stats show the HSE paid €540m last year to general practices - but that is just 3% of the total health budget.

Chris Goodey of the National Association of General Practitioners wants the Health Minister to up his investment.

He said: "I think Simon Harris appreciates the value of general practice and I believe he's is committed completely to invest.

"I would hope that in the budget he will be supported by his cabinet colleagues to invest appropriately in general practice."

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