Press Release

Minister for Health welcomes publication of HSE National Service Plan 2018

Increases in Respite and Home Support Hours, Speech and Language Therapy, Community Intervention Team referrals and Paediatric Homecare Packages

Improved access to Mental Health Services, Drug and Alcohol Treatment Services and Maternity services, including Anomaly Scans

Focus on cutting Waiting Lists and improving Access to Hospital Services
Value Improvement Programme to be set up

Minister for Health Simon Harris, Minister for Disabilities Finian McGrath, Minister for Health Promotion and the National Drugs Strategy Catherine Byrne, and Minister for Mental Health and Older People Jim Daly have today (Wednesday) welcomed the publication of the HSE National Service Plan for 2018.

Minister Simon Harris said, “Today’s Service Plan detailed the range of services the HSE will provide in 2018 and I’m happy to say that this will include among other things increases in Respite Hours, Home Support Hours, Speech and Language Therapy, Community Intervention Team referrals and Paediatric Homecare Packages, improved access to Mental Health Services, Drug and Alcohol Treatment Services and Maternity services and a continued focus on cutting Waiting Lists and improving Access to Hospital Services

“I’m also pleased that the HSE intends to refocus efforts to achieve the best outcomes and value for money through the establishment of a Value Improvement Programme. This will consider how to reduce the costs of delivering services without reducing the level or quality of the services provided.

“The plan is based on an increased budget of over €600m compared to 2017 and brings the total HSE budget to over €14.5 billion.  It represents the fourth year in a row where significant additional resources have been allocated to the health services. This gives us the opportunity to continue to improve services for our patients and for the public. This Service Plan is aimed at ensuring we deliver a high quality and safe health service in 2018 for all our patients, both young and old.

“The provision of additional funding for primary care will enable a range of initiatives to be progressed in 2018 which will aid in the shift to primary care.  The focus will be on disease prevention and early intervention, particularly through the further development and expansion of GP services, Community Intervention Teams and the recruitment of additional therapy posts.  There will also be a continued focus on the development of primary care centres and primary care teams.  In relation to GP care I am optimistic that agreement can be reached with GP representatives in the coming months on significant service developments that can also be introduced during 2018.

“I am also pleased to note the new section of the Service Plan which is dedicated to Women and Infants Health.  I was pleased to launch the National Women & Infants Health Programme’s Implementation Plan for Ireland’s first National Maternity Strategy in October.  I am delighted that funding will be provided to roll out the Strategy in line with the Programme’s priorities for 2018, which include improving quality and safety, developing community midwife teams and increasing access to anomaly scans.  Such developments will facilitate the on-going implementation of the new model of care and deliver tangible improvements for the 80,000 families who access maternity care all around the country each year.

“The National Service Plan 2018 will continue to deliver on my priorities in relation to waiting lists next year, including building on progress which is underway in the reduction in waiting times for paediatric orthopaedic services and treatments for scoliosis. The National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) budget will be increased by €35m in 2018, bringing its total budget to €55m next year.  In 2018, the HSE will continue to work closely with the NTPF to ensured improved access to treatment for patients using this increased funding.

“Tackling overcrowding in EDs is another key commitment of this Government and the 2018 Budget ring-fenced an additional €30m for winter initiatives and measures to improve access to unscheduled care and alleviate pressures on Emergency Departments in 2017, with €40m for the delivery of such measures in 2018.  The additional funding will be used to increase bed capacity this winter and moving forward, as part of the National Service Plan 2018.  This funding will provide for surge beds to be open in the winter period and also permanent additional beds for the system.

“The proposed development of cancer services in the National Service Plan 2018 will allow us to progress the implementation of the National Cancer Strategy 2017-2026, launched in July of this year, under the four broad goals of the Strategy: reducing the cancer burden; providing optimal care; maximising patient involvement and quality of life; and enabling and assuring change.

“The proposed allocation will support the development of cancer services across prevention, diagnosis and treatment, including medical oncology, surgical oncology and radiation oncology. Next year will also see a hugely increased focus on the health and wellbeing of cancer patients following on from their treatment. The aim will be to enable patients to return to as normal a life as possible.

“Today’s health service faces many challenges, not least those of a growing population and an ageing population with public expectations for quality services continuing to increase.  The HSE, with support from my Department, will work hard to meet those challenges and deliver on the promise of a high quality service, accessible to all.”

The Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Disabilities, Minister Finian McGrath said, “I welcome that extra funding secured for disability services will be put to good use in important areas in 2018.  Additional funding is being allocated to meet the cost of providing valuable supports for school leavers, respite and regulatory compliance costs.  I am particularly pleased that an additional €10m will further enhance respite services.  The provision of 12 new dedicated respite houses around the country, as well as extra funding for other innovative respite solutions, is intended to support individuals with disabilities and their families.  I am very aware of the pressure on carers of people with disabilities who are often under tremendous strain to keep going.  I hope that this funding will enable them to get a well-deserved break and to maintain their own health and wellbeing.”

Minister of State for Health Promotion and the National Drugs Strategy, Minister Catherine Byrne, welcoming the publication of the Service Plan, said she was pleased to note the HSE’s commitment to the continued active implementation of Healthy Ireland across all areas of the HSE, which sets out a comprehensive and co-ordinated plan to improve the health and well-being of the population over the coming years.  Initiatives and plans on protecting the population from threats to their health and well-being are also outlined in the service plan.

In addition, significant additional funding has been provided in the Service Plan to enable the HSE to progress actions in Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery, the new strategy to respond to drug and alcohol use in Ireland.  An allocation of an additional €4m will help expand drug and alcohol treatment services, reduce waiting times to access treatment and increase the number of drug and alcohol liaison midwives.  A further €2.5m has been provided to maintain the focus on supports for people from marginalised groups who experience health inequalities.  The additional funding will address the health needs of people who are homeless and have mental health and addiction issues, in line with the Rebuilding Ireland and Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery strategies.  The HSE will increase the level of expenditure on specialist in-reach and out-reach services for homeless people.  This funding will also be used to respond to the pressing health needs of refugees arriving in Emergency Reception and Orientation Centres.  This results in €6.5m additional resources in 2018 to improve the health outcomes of the most vulnerable in society, including those with addiction issues, the homeless and refugees.

The Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Minister Jim Daly, said, “The Service Plan reflects the high priority this Government is according to the ongoing development of our Mental Health Services.  In 2018, there will be a €35m increase in expenditure in Mental Health.  €55m will also be made available for mental health services in 2019.  Taken together with the €35m in 2018 and the €15m allocation in 2017, this will bring the total allocation over the period 2017-2019 to €105m.  This will deliver on the commitment to full implementation of A Vision For Change and allow for many of the actions recommended in the National Youth Mental Health Task Force report to commence in 2018.  Priorities in 2018 include improved 7-day response in mental health services, expanded out-of-hours and liaison services for both adult and children”.

“Home support services are critical to enable older people to stay in their own homes and maintain their independence for as long as possible.  In 2017 continued expansion of these services was delivered and this will continue in 2018.  The HSE will continue to support older people in their own homes and communities as well as providing enhanced services and transitional care resources to support acute hospital discharge as early as possible.  There will always be a cohort of people who require long term residential care.  It is important that older people have access to the best residential care available.  In that respect, I am pleased that with a budget of €961m for the Nursing Homes Support Scheme in 2018, access to quality nursing home care will continue to be supported,” concluded Minister Daly.