Saturday 21 September 2019

Tackling crises will eat up additional funding


Stock photo
Stock photo
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

The urgent need to reduce hospital waiting lists and tackle the trolley crisis will eat up much of the additional €685m allocated to the health service, which is getting a record €15.3bn allocation in 2018.

However, around €200m is already spoken for in extra pay rises for staff.

It includes €39m in capital spending which will be used for projects such as the National Children's Hospital.

Overall, €75m will be targeted at hospital waiting lists which are at an all-time high of around 690,000.

Health Minister Simon Harris said €10m is being drawn down this year to pay for care for some of the longest waiters.

Next year €5m will be allocated to the National Treatment Purchase Fund to buy surgical operations mainly for around 18,000 patients.

It also includes around €10m to reduce the waiting times for children with scoliosis who need orthopaedic surgery.

Some complex cases, including patients in need of hip operations and gastric bypass surgery, will be sent to other public hospitals under the scheme.

These include Cappagh Hospital, the Eye and Ear Hospital, and Navan Hospital.

Some €40m of the funding is to be used to keep the winter trolley crisis and hospital overcrowding under control. Hospitals which are to get special allocations include Galway, Our Lady of Lourdes, Drogheda, Beaumont, Roscommon and South Tipperary, which is to get a long-promised prefab building, dubbed a "patient hotel".

There is a pledge to try to hire 1,800 frontline staff in 2018. However, there were 1,000 more nursing posts pledged in Budget 2017. The latest employment census shows that there were only 13 additional nursing staff in the first nine months of this year, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation. The HSE will now have to draw up a national service plan for 2018 based on the Budget funding and carve up how it will be spent.

Health at a glance

  • €15.3bn allocation to health – the highest to date.
  • €685m extra including €39m capital funding for new hospitals.
  • Medical card prescription charge cut from €2.50 to €2.
  • Drug Payment Scheme threshold down from €144 to €134 a month.
  • €75m to reduce waiting lists and €40m to tackle winter trolley crisis.
  • €37m for home care packages and transitional care beds.
  • €25m for primary care, including extra GP services.
  • €35m to develop mental health services.
  • €1.763m for disability services, a rise of €75m.
  • €949.7m for Fair Deal nursing scheme to keep waiting times low

Irish Independent

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