Fair Deal nursing home scheme guaranteed a healthy Budget - but what of other services?
Published 06/10/2015 | 02:30
We know the HSE's €2bn wish list worth of additional funding for the health service in 2016 will not be granted - but just how much extra will the allocated this year?
And how will this affect essential services?
The talks on the health budget for next year have now reached a crunch stage with officials from the Department of Health and the Department of Public Expenditure locked in negotiations yesterday.
What is clear is that frontline services will be prioritised for a share of the financial cake.
The Government will be at pains to be seen to bring as much as order as possible to the trolley crisis in the run-in to an election.
Therefore among the winners in next week's Budget will be elderly people needing a nursing home or home care package.
Keeping the waiting time for a nursing home bed at four weeks means fewer precious hospital beds are blocked. But so many other factors will also play a role in reducing trolley gridlock, including opening the planned 300 beds before the end of the year.
Having staff available to open these beds is essential, otherwise they will lie idle.
Hence the offer of a full-time permanent job to all 1,500 nursing graduates this year in a bid to get the vital staff to allow the beds to open.
The recruitment campaign for 500 Irish nurses who emigrated to work in the UK when there were no jobs here resulted in 339 applications and this figure has more or less stalled for weeks.
Some 90 nurses have been shortlisted and 77 have accepted posts.
However, it will not be until the HSE sets out its service plan for 2016, breaking down in detail where the money it gets next week will go, that the real extent of what services will lose out will become clear.
The plan will be produced before the end of the year and the fine print will tell us where it has had to curb its ambitions. In recent years developments such as the extension of Breastcheck to older women had to be put on hold although it was given the green light this year.
The feeling among health officials is that the HSE is always too extravagant in how it prices its services.
A recent example was the difference in the sum it said it needed to reduce hospital waiting lists - and the much lower costing from the Department of Health.
The HSE estimated that additional funding of €419m is needed next year to improve services over and above what was in train in 2015.
With an election in the offing it may find that setting its sights high this year may pay off.