Press Release

Varadkar & Lynch publish Health priorities for 2015

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar and Minister for Primary Care, Social Care & Mental Health Kathleen Lynch have published the priorities for the Department of Health for 2015.

“These priorities provide a clear direction for the development of health services and policy in 2015.  The 25 priorities include new legislation to reduce alcohol consumption, proposals to extend the remit of HIQA, extending the range of services available in primary care, moves to increase the number of people with health insurance, the first national survey of Ireland’s health in eight years and an ambitious target to cut the number of delayed discharges by one third to 500 and take pressure off overcrowded Emergency Departments and hospitals,” Minister Varadkar said.

Minister Lynch said: “As Minister for Primary Care, Social Care and Mental Health I am satisfied that this list of 25 health priorities provides us with a targeted plan against which we can measure progress. Health is a complex interrelated sector which requires us to take an integrated approach to planning. We cannot plan in one area without taking account of the knock on effect in another. With this in mind it is particularly important that priorities in the areas of mental health, services for older people and disability services have been included in the list. I look forward to working with Minister Varadkar and the officials in the Department of Health over the coming twelve months in implementing the priorities as set out in the list.”

The Department has also published a more detailed list of priorities covering the period 2015-2017 which is available at the end of this press release.

Priority Area: Healthy Ireland

  • Introduce major Public Health Bills (Alcohol, Standardised Packaging of Tobacco, Licensing of Sale of Tobacco)
  • Publish the findings from the first Healthy Ireland survey, giving an overview of the health of the nation for the first time since 2007.

Priority Area: Patient Outcomes and Safety

  • Reduce number of patients with Delayed Discharges by one third to less than 500 and number of patients on trolleys in EDs waiting for admission for over 9 hours by one third to less than 70. (Q4 average number of delayed discharges & SDU TrolleyGar.)
  • Develop and implement a plan to address waiting lists, with a focus on very long waiters such that by mid-year, nobody will wait longer than 18 months for in patient and day case treatment or an outpatient appointment, with a further reduction thereafter to no greater than 15 months by year end.
  • Continue to reduce the cost of medicines to patients and the taxpayer.
  • Publish the Review of the Mental Health Act.
  • Extend and implement the National Clinical Effectiveness Guidelines.
  • Agree a plan for extending HIQA regulation to other health and social care sectors, commencing in 2015 with private healthcare providers.
  • Progress the reconfiguration of residential services as recommended in Time to Move on from Congregated Settings.

Priority Area: Universal Health Care

  • Take the first concrete steps to provide a Universal Health service by extending GP services without fees to all under sixes and GP services without fees to the over 70s
  • Put in place models of care that improve the way people can access services, by supporting new models of chronic disease management, increasing GP access to diagnostic services and progressing the provision of minor surgery in primary care.
  • Commence development of a revised contract for publicly-funded GP services as part of an integrated health service
  • Implement a package of measures to increase the number of people with health insurance
  • Universal Health Insurance – complete the costing analysis and revert to Government with a roadmap on next steps

Priority Area: Modernise Health Infrastructure

Secure planning permission for the new children’s hospital (St James’s campus) and satellite centres (Blanchardstown and Tallaght) and publish heads of Bill to merge the three existing children’s hospitals into one
Commence works on the new National Forensic Mental Health Services Campus (Portrane)

  • Submit planning application for the new National Maternity Hospital (St Vincent’s)
  • Build nine new primary care centres and more through lease arrangements

Priority Area: Reform

  • Get the hospital groups and community healthcare organisations up and running
  • Publish draft legislation on Assisted Human Reproduction and associated research
  • Issue the first Individual Health Identifiers and increase investment in ICT and eHealth
  • Develop a new mechanism to ensure implementation of HIQA recommendations made to the HSE

Priority Area: Innovative Funding Models

  • Embed ‘activity based funding’ in the health service
  • Pursue alternative public/private options to construct new community nursing units
  • Explore the possibility of using social impact bonds to provide more resources for drug treatment and rehabilitation

Priority Area: Strategies & frameworks

The Department will publish or develop the following strategies and frameworks.

  • Publish Obesity Policy
  • Publish Sexual Health Policy
  • Implement National Positive Ageing Strategy
  • Commence work on new National Drugs Strategy
  • Publish Oral Health Strategy
  • Publish Maternity Care Strategy
  • Publish Cancer Strategy
  • Develop a policy framework on Healthcare Commissioning

Department of Health priorities 2015-2017

The Department’s 2015-2017 priorities listed in the attached table will include the phased extension of GP services without fees to other cohorts of the population, agreeing a new GP contract, working to deliver an additional 28 primary care centres by mid- 2017, developing and implementing revised models of pre-hospital emergency care and extending the remit of HIQA to include home care.


Profile Table of Priority Areas, Actions and Deliverables for the Period 2015- 2017