The health service will get over €23 billion next year, its biggest budget to date.

Around 420,000 people will now get a free GP card under a widening of free GP care eligibility from next April.

The income limits for this means-tested scheme will be increased to allow more people to be covered.

But family doctors are unhappy.

The Irish Medical Organisation said there is already a shortage of GPs to deliver care and the new measure will add to waiting lists in general practice.

GP public patient lists are capped at 2,200 so doctors say many will not have the capacity to take on extra work.

However, in practice, the change will see in many cases, people who are currently private patients of GPs, now becoming their public patients, for free GP care.

Doctors say that people with medical cards attend much more often than private patients.

Health officials say recent studies suggest that a 30% increase in visits for each new free GP cardholder is likely to be the maximum.

The free GP care measure is due to be supported by a package of extra capacity supports to GP practices.

In last year's Budget, free GP care for under-6s and under-7s was promised this year but has been delayed.

It is the subject of negotiations with the doctors' union, the Irish Medical Organisation.

Today the Government said it hoped it will be agreed by the end of this year.

Under Budget 2023, inpatient hospital charges which can amount to €800 a year, are to be abolished for adults from next April.

Recently these charges for children under 16 years were abolished.

With over 857,000 people on some form of hospital waiting list, a fund of over €440m is being allocated to try and cut these record lists.

There is no change to the current maximum amount of €60 a month people have to pay for their medicines under the Drug Payment Scheme.

Other changes will see zero VAT on defibrillators from next January and zero VAT on Hormone Replacement Therapy, nicotine replacement and some period products.

There will be over €430m for Covid-19 measures next year, including personal protective equipment, testing and tracing, and vaccinations.