Press Release

Statement from Minister for Health and Children in respect of certain charges

The Minister for Health and Children, Mr Micheál Martin TD, has today (12 July) announced that activity in the health services this year is well ahead on the 2001 level of activity. He added that “while the increase in activity is welcome, nonetheless expenditure levels must be kept within those agreed by Government for each Department.” The Minister has announced that the following increases will be implemented.

The monthly threshold for the Drug Payment Scheme, currently€53.33, above which the State pays for expenditure by families or individuals on prescribed medicines, will be €65 from 1 August 2002. The threshold has not been increased since the Scheme´s introduction on 1 July 1999 although the cost of the scheme has risen by 73%, up from €51.34 m for the last 6 months of 1999 to €177.6 m for 2001. About 1.15 million people are now availing of the scheme.

The statutory charge for an attendance at accident and emergency departments will be increased from €31.70 to €40. This charge is levied only on persons who attend at accident and emergency departments without a referral note from their doctor and applies only for the first visit of any episode of care. The Minister added that as well as providing hospitals with a source of income, the charge is important as an incentive towards the appropriate use of accident and emergency departments.