Press Release

National Service Plan 2005 of the Health Service Executive

The Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney, TD today laid the 2005 National Service Plan of the Health Service Executive (HSE) before both Houses of the Oireachtas in accordance with the Health Act 2004. The Tánaiste has approved the Plan which is based on about €11.5 billion provided in the estimates for the Health Service Executive.

This is the first National Service Plan ever provided to a Minister for Health and Children as previous Service Plans related to each former health board and the Eastern Regional Health Authority. The Tánaiste appreciates the work of the Board of the Executive and its management in producing the Plan the broad format of which was developed with her Department during last year.

The National Service Plan covers both capital and non-capital spending and describes for each programme of care the activity levels to be delivered nationally and compares this years target with last years out turn. The Plan aims to deliver during this year the output for 2004 together with additional specific improvements in Accident and Emergency Services, Disability Services and increases in the numbers covered by Medical Cards with 230,000 additional persons having free General Practitioner services.

In addition to the services set out in the HSE Plan the Tánaiste has increased the funding for the National Treatment Purchase Fund by 45% or €20 million. This will provide for a continuing focused programme of reductions in the waiting times for acute care.

The Plan provides for an employment ceiling of 97,550 full time posts which represents a net increase of 1,750 posts since the ceiling was first set in 2002. This increase includes an upward adjustment of 1,200 posts at the end of 2004 to facilitate the commissioning of new health units in which some €400 million has been invested. It also factors in 600 posts that are due to be removed from the system during 2005, in line with government policy to reduce public numbers generally.

This 600 post reduction represents a 0.6% of the overall number of posts approved for the health sector and will be achieved without any effect on direct patient care.

Detailed proposals are awaited from the HSE for achieving compliance with authorised employment levels. The Tánaiste has made it clear to the HSE that front-line services to the public must be protected.

The €140 million new funding provided to the HSE this year to alleviate pressures on A&E Departments (€70m) and for investment in disability support services (€55m) and mental health services (€15m) will result in the creation of a significant number of new posts.

The implementation of the Service Plan is the operational responsibility of the HSE and the Plan will be monitored by the Department of Health and Children and the HSE during the year. The Executive will be reporting to the Tánaiste on a regular basis during the year in regard to the achievement of targets described for each programme. The HSE are putting the Plan on the Internet to make the service targets more accessible to the general public.

You can download the Service Plan from the HSE website.