Press Release

Sláintecare top priority in health budget 2019; investment & improved access to GP services; more help for families & older people with health costs – Health Ministers

  • €75 million funding for NTPF to reduce waiting lists further
  • €55 million additional funding for mental health
  • Funding for 100 therapy posts to address assessment of need waiting lists
  • Implementation of health-led national drugs strategy a priority

Minister Simon Harris and Ministers of State Finian McGrath, Jim Daly and Catherine Byrne have welcomed the significant increase in health funding in 2019 which will be focused on Sláintecare implementation, increased investment in GP services, increased funding for tackling waiting lists and assistance for families with the cost of doctor visits and medicines.

The Budget features over €200m to implement the Sláintecare Implementation Strategy, which was published by the Government in August, and which has shaped the allocation of health investment in Budget 2019.  This will be built upon in the HSE’s 2019 National Service Plan.  

Additional investment includes:

  • Significant multi-annual investment in General Practice to support delivering more care in the community
  • €75 million in funding for NTPF to reduce waiting times in line with Sláintecare goals
  • €6.7m in funding for the National Children’s Hospital project, which includes commencement of the rollout of the new paediatric model of care to ensure the development of an integrated network of services nationally, with linkages to primary care and community services and the opening of the urgent care centre in Connolly
  • Additional funding for winter pressures in 2018/2019 and new beds in 2019/20
  • €55 million additional funding to continue development of mental health services, in particular community mental health services, in line with Vision for Change
  • 50c reduction in prescription charges for over-70s and phasing out of prescription charges for those in emergency accommodation
  • €10 reduction in monthly threshold for Drugs Payment Scheme
  • Expanding access to free GP care through a 10% increase in the weekly income thresholds for GP visit cards
  • 100 new therapy posts to address assessment of need waiting lists for children with disabilities
  • Expansion of community disability services to meet the needs of school-leavers
  • Funding to implement recommendations of Dr Gabriel Scally’s inquiry in to the CervicalCheck Screening Programme, including to implement the switch to HPV screening, and extend HPV vaccination to boys
  • Funding for termination of pregnancy services
  • Development of an Action Plan for Women’s Health

Minister Simon Harris said:  “We are now firmly in the era of Sláintecare.  We have a significant fund for implementation of key measures envisaged by Sláintecare including a ring-fenced fund for integration of care.  In framing the 2019 National Service Plan, we will be charging the HSE with using the significantly increased resources to deliver on Sláintecare.

“One of my key priorities and one of the main objectives of Sláintecare is to provide timely access to care. Budget 2019 will increase investment in the National Treatment Purchase Fund from €55 million to €75 million.  This funding will be used to treat 70,000 patients on waiting lists in 2019. This is in addition to the HSE insourcing initiatives on reducing waiting times for hospital procedures this year.

“Sláintecare also focuses on the necessity to expand eligibility as part of the move towards universal health care. I am particularly pleased to be announcing an expansion of free GP care, which could benefit up to 100,000 people.”

Minister Finian McGrath said: “I am very pleased that I have been able to both build upon significant existing resources and obtain additional funding for disability services. On taking office, one of my priorities was to ensure that all young adults leaving school or rehabilitative training would have access to supports and services which met their needs at one of the most crucial transition points of their lives. The additional funding obtained this year will provide for the full year effect of these additional services in 2019, as well as making sure that the needs of all those leaving school in 2019 will also be addressed.

“I am also delighted to have been able to secure funding for additional therapy posts for Assessment of Need and therapeutic interventions – we know how important early intervention is in supporting children to reach their full potential.”

Minister Jim Daly said:  “While the bulk of this €55m new development funding is aimed at further enhancing community mental health teams for adults and children, I am pleased to have secured funding that will enhance the spectrum of services, ranging from prevention and early intervention to promoting recovery in the most complex cases. In particular, I have highlighted a number of new initiatives around the use of e-mental health and digital technologies, which includes a number of pilot programmes for tele-counselling; a dedicated mental health telephone number and crisis text service. New funding for community led youth mental health initiatives by sporting, community or other youth groups to promote and deliver positive mental health in a new way will also be rolled out.”

Minister Catherine Byrne said:  ‘Implementing the health-led national drugs strategy continues to be a Government priority. Within the increased envelope of resources available, my intention is to prioritise funding for community drug and alcohol projects in task force areas of greatest need, additional drug and alcohol midwives working with vulnerable mothers-to-be and enhanced treatment services to address existing and emerging needs.

“Sustaining the cross-Government focus on Healthy Ireland is a key action area under the Sláintecare Implementation Strategy.  We need to continue our focus on prevention, and on empowering and engaging citizens and communities in improving the health and wellbeing of the nation.

“Extending the HPV vaccine to boys will help us achieve our goal of eliminating cervical cancer and will serve to protect boys and girls from a range of other cancers in the future.”

ENDS