Chairman of the Irish Medical Organisation's GP Committee Dr Padraig McGarry has said he was "surprised" at the announcement of free GP care for the under 12s in yesterday’s Budget.

Dr McGarry said the IMO was currently in negotiations with the Department of Health on a new GP contract to provide care for under-sixes.

He said: "We accept the right to make policy but we also accept the right to disagree with that policy."

Dr McGarry said the existing contract had to be addressed first and he said wanted to "fix what was there" rather than expanding out the service to under 12s.

He said income thresholds for medical cards should be raised instead of using age as a qualification for universal care.

He described the current contract for GPs to provide care to under sixes as "not fit for purpose".