Minister for Health Simon Harris intends to publish legislation before the end of the year to provide free GP care for all children under the age of 12.

He said this would be phased in over a number of years, but would require an agreement with GPs beyond what has already been negotiated.

The minister said it has to be recognised that visiting a GP is still a financial burden on families.

He added that he also intends to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to those under the age of 18, and that he is planning to bring a proposal to Cabinet in the next few weeks to outlaw the sale of tobacco from vending machines.