Saturday 10 December 2016

Public patients due to be sent to private hospitals to reduce waiting lists - Budget 2017

Published 11/10/2016 | 19:27

Budget day, Health. Finian McGrath TD. Simon Harris TD Minister for Health. Marcella Corcoran Kennelly TD. Photo: Douglas O'Connor.
Budget day, Health. Finian McGrath TD. Simon Harris TD Minister for Health. Marcella Corcoran Kennelly TD. Photo: Douglas O'Connor.

More public patients on waiting lists are expected to be sent to private hospitals next year to have surgery, undergo a diagnostic procedure or see a consultant.

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Under the Budget plans unveiled today the National Treatment Purchase Fund is to be given €20m to buy slots for some of the 535,000 on public waiting lists.

A high proportion of these are expected to be in private hospitals.

Health Minister Simon Harris said the health service is getting €14.1bn next year, an increase of €454m.

It comes against a background of growing pressures on hospitals which are struggling with an influx of many older patients as well as coping with staff shortages.

Highlights of the health budget include:

Budget day, Health. Simon Harris TD Minister for Health. Photo: Douglas O'Connor.
Budget day, Health. Simon Harris TD Minister for Health. Photo: Douglas O'Connor.
  • An extra €50m for public waiting lists with €20m of this going to the NTPF
  • A €5 cut in the monthly cap in prescription charges for the over.  It will mean the per item charge will fall from €2.50 to €2 .Those on a lot of a medication will pay €20 a month, instead of €25.
  • €10 more for home care
  • 10,000 children covered by domicilliary care allowance will get medical card
  • Extra €35m for mental health supports and services for school leavers with disabilities
  • The roll out of the meningitis B and rotavirus vaccine
  • Sugar tax on fizzy drinks in 2018

The Minister said: "This will allow real improvements for patients."

The reduction in the prescription charge measure was pushed through by Independent Alliance ministers, despite reluctance from health officials who will have to find around €13m from other sources next year.

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