Press Release

National Development Plan 2007-13 underlines high level of public investment in health

Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney T.D.

– Public capital investment highest in OECD  
– €10bn for services for older people  
– €19bn for services for people with disabilities  

The Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney T.D., today underlined the Government’s commitment to high levels of public investment in health in the new National Development Plan over seven years.

The Minister said,

“Over recent years we have grown public investment in health at unprecedented rates. We have increased public health spending at one of the fastest rates among developing countries. Public health spending is now 78 per cent of total health spending in the country – higher than the OECD average.”

“Today’s National Development Plan can leave no doubt about the Government’s commitment to continue high levels of public investment in health in tandem with our fundamental reform programme.”

“Were it not for the reform programme, we could not productively increase health investment and get the results for patients we want. On the other hand were it not for the additional investment, we could not get the results either.”

“We will not wait for reform to be finished to invest more; and we will not wait for spending to all used up before reforming. Investment and reform have to go hand in hand.”

“There have been substantial improvements for patients to date. The facts are that across the major services areas, from cardiac care, to cancer care, to services for older people and people with disabilities, more people are receiving services, faster, and better than when this Government took office. To suggest otherwise is simply wrong. Our health services are improving and they will improve even further. The Government and I are determined that we should make greater progress over the life of this National Development Plan.”

“Public and private investment and services can work together for all patients. Today, we see the evidence of the Government’s strong commitment to public investment. Private investment is also growing and will deliver more capacity that can be used for all patients. This is how the hospital co-location plan will work.”

“I want to underline three parts of the NDP for planned investment and spending:
– capital programmes in hospitals and primary and community settings
– expansion of services for older people
– expansion of services for people with disabilities

My colleague, the Minister for Children, Brian Lenihan T.D., will outline the planned development of services for children in the coming days.”

Capital investment

“The total capital funding of €5 billion announced today by the Government represents the greatest ever level of investment earmarked for improving health infrastructure, both in terms of upgrading existing facilities or putting in place new developments to meet changing service needs.”

“Ireland is already investing the highest proportion of national income in public investment in medical facilities among OECD countries. The most recent OECD data show that in 2004, we invested 0.6% of GNP (0.5% of GDP) in medical facilities, the highest level alongside Norway. Most other countries invest half that proportion of national income or less.”

“All of us can take pride, as I do, that we can sustain this public investment in health because of the strength of our economy. It is one of the most compelling reasons to pursue policies that will sustain economic success.”

“I have ensured that the new NDP will bring tangible benefits to all sections of our health services. The €5 billion announced today will enable substantial improvements in the physical infrastructure and equipping of not only the Acute Hospital Sector but also in the increasingly important area of Primary, Continuing and Community Care.”

“The thrust of the Plan will be to develop an infrastructure that will deliver a more patient-centred and accessible service, particularly in terms of quality, access, regional development and social inclusion.”

“Priorities in the Acute Hospital sector, in which we will invest €2.4 billion, will include the redevelopment of the Mater Hospital, a new National Paediatric Hospital and work on a new Regional Hospital for the North East.”

“The Plan also provides for the re-development of the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire, which will increase existing rehabilitation bed capacity.”

“In cancer care, the BreastCheck Programme will be fully rolled out nationally starting this year with new mobile services, as appropriate, and units at Cork and Galway. The new Radiation Oncology facilities and services will be developed nationally under the Plan. The NDP will also bring about new initiatives in the area of Accident and Emergency services, infection control and acute bed capacity.”

“In the areas of Primary Care and Continuing Care, the strategy is to support as many services as possible closer to people in their communities in primary care facilities that support a range of medical and clinical services together. We will invest in the physical facilities to support the new Primary Care Teams now being brought together. We are working towards 300 primary care teams by 2008, 400 by 2009 and 500 by 2011.”

“Some facilities will be 100 per cent State funded, others will involve a mix of public and private investment, depending on needs.”

“The Plan supports the modernisation of Mental Health services and the implementation of ‘A Vision for Change’. New community mental health centres and child and adult psychiatric units will be developed, for example. Funding provided in this Plan will be supplemented by the proceeds of the disposal of older, no-longer needed psychiatric hospitals. ‘A Vision for Change’ anticipates this will amount to €800m.”

“Investment will also be made in immunisation records and infectious disease reporting, national dental information, GP messaging, telemedicine and the electronic patient record amongst others.”

Older People programme 

“The Government have placed particular emphasis in this NDP on promoting social inclusion in the areas of Disabilities, Child Care and Older Persons.”   “I am particularly pleased that this NDP builds on the €400 million expansion in services for older people in the two recent Budgets, the largest ever.”   “Over the life of the NDP, we plan to invest €9.7 billion in services for older people, continuing to make good on our commitment to supporting older people in their homes to the greatest extent possible. We will continue to expand the new Home Care packages, Home Helps, Respite Care and Palliative Care.”   “The Living at Home Sub-Programme amounts to €4.7 billion while the Residential Care Sub-Programme amounts to €5 billion. As I have stated before in the context of financing residential care, the State will continue to fund over two thirds of residential care costs in the country, and there will continue to be a high level of investment in public nursing home places. For example, we are funding over 800 new nursing home beds this year – the majority, 440, in the public sector, with a further 400 public places in 2008.”

People with Disabilities programme

“The Plan include the very substantial amount of €19.2 billion for Services for people with Disabilities, most of which is channelled through the Health Services Disabilities Sub-Programme (€18.8bn).”   “This is both a strong re-iteration of, and an extension of, the Government’s commitment to Services for People with Disabilities made in Budget 2005 with the first fully-funded multi-annual current investment programme (2006-09).”   “There will be continued and sustained investment in community-based residential and respite services; more appropriate residential accommodation for people in inappropriate institutional settings; day centres and resource facilities; and expanded child and adult psychiatric services.”   “The NDP will support the implementation of Part 2 of the Disability Act for children under 5 years of age from June of this year and for all others by 2011. This will involve assessments of individual need and service statements.”

North South dimension   “I am very pleased that in the health sector, as in all others, this National Development Plan includes a North South dimension for the first time. There is great scope for practical co-operation that will benefit the populations in each jurisdiction. The changing political climate and the resources available to us provide an unprecedented opportunity to work together for the benefit of patients, particularly in the North West and border areas. I look forward to our health services co-operating closely together in the years ahead and, for example, helping the work of CAWT (Co-operation and Working Together) to deliver practical benefits to patients.”

Conclusion

“Given the scale of investment in health, the Government requires the HSE to deliver projects in accordance with best Value for Money and public procurement practice and in line with agreed associated revenue and staffing levels for the health sector. The HSE is fully signed up to doing this.”   “This is a time of tremendous opportunity for health in Ireland. We have all the resources to back up reform and to build fully modern health infrastructure and services.”