Free GP scheme will need at least two local doctors
The free GP care scheme for children under six must have two doctors in each community if it is to reach "critical mass".
Junior Health Minister Kathleen Lynch said she hopes to see 100pc uptake by GPs but accepted that was not going to happen.
"I hope there is enough to create critical mass, that there will be someone in every community that will be available. Now that will be a struggle for people but I suppose with a change in systems which is as significant as this you are always going to have people that don't agree with it, but it usually settles down," she said.
"Critical mass would be that you would have at least two GPs in any community that would be signing up. Critical mass I suppose is a critical mass of enough GPs that will be able to deliver the service," she added.
The minister was speaking after addressing GPs at the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) conference in Galway.
She told them she did not believe there should be any moral dilemma to signing up to the contract, telling the conference that, like Groucho Marx, she had "very few principles" but was a very moral person.
"We can argue about whether or not something is right or wrong, or how it's delivered or not delivered," Ms Lynch said.
"We can argue about whether it's the right cohort that needs to get it, and I've no difficulty with any of those things. I do have a difficulty with it somehow becoming a moral dilemma.
"I think I'm probably a very moral person ... and I believe in right or wrong. So we can have the argument about 'is it the right group' of patients.
"But I don't go for the moral or the principle thing, I just don't go with that. I still think it's the right thing to do," she said.
The minister allayed fears that a practice could still continue GP training if they fail to sign up to the contract, insisting it would not have an impact on that.
She added that parents would have the choice not to accept the free GP care for children but would have to move to a practice signed up to the contract.