Free GP care is expected to be extended by the Government to children under eight next year and children under 12 within a few years.

It comes as a result of the new deal agreed with the Irish Medical Organisation.

While legislation will be needed for the change, the Government plans to move to extend free GP care from the current under sixes, to under eights by next summer, under tens by 2021 and under 12s by 2022, RTÉ News has learned.

Under the €200m overall agreement with the IMO on general practice, confirmed today, the union has agreed to the extension of free GP care, subject to the fee being determined and separate discussions on the issue.

It will be up to individual GPs to decide if they wish to opt-in to providing the extension of free GP care.

Details of the plan to extend GP care are expected to be announced tomorrow by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Health Simon Harris.