The Health Service Executive has started to issue proposed contracts to over 2,400 GPs for the provision of free GP care for children under six from later this year.

The 30-page contract has been published on the HSE's website.

The executive is asking GPs to return signed contracts as soon as possible to facilitate the prompt roll-out of the next step in the process, which will be the registration of the under sixes by their parents or guardians in early June.

Along with the existing 2,400 GPs who have general medical service contracts, it will be open to any qualified GP to apply to provide the services.

As GPs are independent contractors, it will be up to each individual doctor to decide if they wish to take up the new contract.

The issuing of the contract follows an agreement reached earlier this month between the Irish Medical Organisation, the HSE and the Department of Health.

Along with free GP care, the new contract includes periodic wellness checks for children once at age two and once at age five.

It also includes a cycle of care for managing asthma, which includes GPs having to report to the HSE if a child lives in a smoke-free household or not, with a view to providing advice on smoking cessation.

A rival union, the National Association of GPs, is opposed to the deal.