Monday 11 December 2017

Fine Gael promises to restore dental benefits in €2bn pre-election health plan

Taoiseach Enda Kenny.Photo: Caroline Quinn
Taoiseach Enda Kenny.Photo: Caroline Quinn
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Fine Gael is promising restore dental benefits for PRSI holders if returned to government under its €2bn pre-election health plan.

People covered by PRSI are now confined to one annual dental examination after a series of cuts ended entitlement to benefits such as a clean and polish as well as some treatments.

Launching its Fine Gael plan for Health, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar said restoring these dental benefits will among its priorities.

The party is promising one significant health measure a year – in stark contrast to its 2011 pre-election manifesto which was pledging universal health insurance, an end to the two tier health system and free GP care for all.

Minister Varadkar said: “The plan allocates €2 billion extra to health over the lifetime of the next government. It sets realistic targets for incremental improvements in our public health service, investing in new infrastructure, technology and hiring 4,400 new frontline staff, taking at least one big step every year towards Universal Healthcare, and formally setting up Hospital Trusts and Community Healthcare Trusts.

"In the last five years we showed that even in tough times, real progress could be made in key areas. We intend to build on that over the next five years.

"Economic recovery isn't only more jobs and more money in our pockets, it's also about better public services and we have a plan to do that in health.”

 The plan promises to include:

·         Extending free GP care to all children

·         New programmes to manage common chronic diseases in the community

·         A full medical card for all children on Domiciliary Care Allowance

·         A dedicated fund of €50 million a year to reduce waiting lists

·         Measuring and improving patient experience times in Emergency Departments

·         A tax on sugar sweetened drinks

·         Further measures to reduce smoking

·         Implementing Healthy Ireland initiatives to improve the nation’s health

·         Investing at least a further €750 million in primary care

·         A detailed five year budget for the health service will be set out in 2017

·         100 extra GP training places

·         Providing faster access to mental health services

·         Continued increase in acute hospital beds

·         A new programme to help more people with disabilities to work

·         A new dental benefits package

·         Dismantling the HSE and establishing Hospital Trusts and Community Healthcare Trusts on a statutory basis

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