Press Release

Ministers welcome publication of the HSE National Service Plan 2019

Minister for Health Simon Harris and Ministers of State Finian McGrath, Jim Daly and Catherine Byrne have today welcomed the publication of the HSE National Service Plan for 2019.

Welcoming the publication of the 2019 service plan, Minister Harris said: The National Service Plan being launched today is a continued sign of the investment taking place in our health service. This Service Plan is based on an increased budget of over €848 million over the revised allocation for last year and brings the total HSE budget for the 2019 financial year to over €16 billion.

“This is the largest ever financial allocation provided to our health services and will enable us to continue to improve services for our patients and for the Irish public who want to see continued investment in public services. It represents the fifth year that the Health Budget has increased significantly and shows the continued commitment Government is making in this area. ”

The plan reinforces the aims of Sláintecare and the need to bridge the gap between the vision for health service transformation in Ireland and delivery of change at the frontline.

The provision of additional funding for new developments will see a range of Government initiatives introduced including mental health enhancements; disability services; CervicalCheck screening, the HPV vaccination; the introduction of termination of pregnancy services; the merger of the three Children’s hospitals in Dublin into Children’s Health Ireland; primary care enhancements including funding for a new GP contract, reduced prescription charges, and reduced drug payment scheme and GP visit card thresholds; and the initiation of a programme of care redesign in line with Sláintecare.

The Service Plan emphasises the importance of strengthening clinical leadership, improving patient and service user engagement and advancing a culture of patient safety, continuous quality improvement and learning.
Of particular note is the commitment to respond to the recommendations of the Scoping Inquiry into the CervicalCheck Screening Programme, 2018 (Scally Report), with a priority focus aligned to areas such as communication and open disclosure.

Significant progress has been made over the past 18 months in improving access for patients to an inpatient or day case procedure and this will remain a key priority in 2019. Through the NSP over 1.7 million patients will receive an inpatient or day case procedure in 2019; a small increase of 7,300 on 2018. In addition, funding to the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) has been increased to €75m and the NTPF will fund 25,000 inpatient appointments, an increase of 5,000 on 2018. As a result, a net reduction in the IPDC waiting list of over 10,000 in 2019 is projected – from approximately 70,000 at the end of 2018 to below 60,000 by the end of 2019.

While the waiting times for a first outpatient appointment remains a significant challenge, the number of patients on the outpatient list has remained relatively stable since August, albeit at a very elevated level of 515,000. We will build on this stability in 2019. Over 3.3 million patients will attend a HSE outpatient clinic in 2019. In addition, the NTPF will fund an additional 40,000 first outpatient appointments in 2019.

The Minister acknowledged that the issue of health funding is a major policy challenge, not just in Ireland but internationally. In NSP 2019, the HSE has identified a range of actions and initiatives to ensure it remains in budget next year while also ensuring that it meets the estimated level of demand and service pressures due to both a growing ageing population and increasing public expectations for safe and quality services. The HSE, with support from the 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 the extra funding secured for disability services in the 2019 Service Plan. I am particularly pleased that we will reduce the waiting times for Assessment of Need for children through the provision of 100 additional therapist posts.

“I know that PA and Home Support hours are a key concern for a lot of people. In NSP 2019 there will be an increase of 170,000 PA hours and 150,000 Home Support hours over the Service Plan 2018 targets. Additional funding of €12m is being allocated to meet the cost of providing day supports and services for approximately 1,500 young adults who will leave school in 2019.

“Under the plan, the HSE will move up to 160 people from large institutional settings to homes in the community in line with Time to Move on from Congregated Settings. Ninety new high-acuity emergency residential places will also be funded in 2019 to address urgent unplanned cases as they arise.”

Minister of State for Health Promotion and the National Drugs Strategy, Minister Catherine Byrne, welcoming the publication of the Service Plan, said, “The implementation of the National Drugs Strategy, ‘Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery’ and improving health services for some of the most vulnerable in our society are priority actions in the HSE National Service Plan for 2019. I welcome the additional funding provided for integrated treatment services for people in addiction who also have mental health concerns.

The service plan will also provide for improved healthcare services for people who are homeless, and greater access to services for those affected by drug and alcohol addiction in hospitals and communities. In addition to increased resources, the service plan will deliver more integrated and effective models of care for people with complex healthcare needs, particularly those in marginalised groups experiencing health inequalities.”

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 on-going development of our Mental Health Services. In 2019, there will be an extra €55 million provided for new developments in those services. This will bring the total allocation for new developments over the period 2017-2019 to €105 million and will deliver on the commitment to full implementation of A Vision For Change.

Priorities in 2019 include continued improvements in the provision of a 7-day response in mental health services, expanded out-of-hours and liaison services for both adult and children. In addition, we will introduce a 24/7 signposting contact line, crisis text line and other eMental health digital responses such as tele-therapies. At a local level, we will work with sports, community and voluntary groups to develop resilience and reduce demand for mental health services”.

Minister Daly continued, “An overarching policy of the Government is to support older people to live with dignity and independence in their own homes and communities for as long as possible. Homecare is an important support to achieve this and it is also key for facilitating timely discharge of patients from acute hospitals. Next year the HSE will be providing 18.2 million home support hours to over 53,000 people. This includes providing 550 home support packages to support people getting home from hospital over the winter period.