Wednesday 17 January 2018

€40m to tackle growing waiting lists for home care

Simon Harris. Photo: Tom Burke
Simon Harris. Photo: Tom Burke

Eilish O’Regan

The growing number of many elderly people who are on waiting lists for home care will be tackled with a €40m package , Health Minister Simon Harris announced today.

He said the backlog will be tackled with €20m  allocated to ensure that the 10.4 million home help hours, 15,450 home care packages, 130 intensive home care packages and 313 transitional care beds provided in 2015 are maintained.

Some €10m will ensure that the rate of people getting the home care supports can be maintained during the summer months.

And €10m has been ring fenced for home care as part of the new winter initiative, he told the Dail.

He was speaking as the health service got a massive €500m top-up in supplementary funding to prevent the HSE going seriously into the red this year and cutting back on sevices.

He confirmed there will be €31m for people with disabilities as outlined by Disability Minister Finian McGrath.

This will include funding to cover costs incurred from compliance with national residential standards, services provided to meet the changing needs of people with disabilities, and the provision of emergency residential places.

“Of this additional funding, €3m is ear-marked for new initiatives, including an additional provision for services to meet the need of school leavers with disabilities and the anticipated cost of a number of emergency residential placements arising this year”

• €20m  taken from the mental health budget has been restored.

• €40m will be given to a new inter initiative  to tackle the trolley crisis in emergency departments.

The Minister told the Dail:”Today’s Revised Estimates come in the context of the Government’s determination to put the fruits of economic success to work for the people by improving the services that really matter and make a difference to people’s lives.

“I am privileged to have become Minister for Health at a time when we are in a period of reinvestment in the health services, which gives me the opportunity to address some immediate issues facing patients as well as meeting Programme for Government commitments I want to deliver in my first 100 days. 

“This includes a Winter Initiative to manage overcrowding in Emergency Departments, an integral part of which is increased resources for home care services.

“Of course, it is also of particular importance that this Revised Estimate places the health service on a sustainable financial footing.

“  I welcome the statement from the Director General of the HSE that this additional funding has stabilised the finances for 2016 and allows a realistic target to be achieved, along with the emphasis he placed on the need for effective financial management. 

“Additional funding of €300m was provided in Budget 2016 and this, along with the Supplementary Estimate of €600m remaining in the health sector base moving into 2016, resulted in an increase of €900m over the 2015 budget, albeit that some of this had to address once off measures from the previous year.

“While the funding secured in the Budget was welcome, it was becoming increasingly clear that the HSE was facing financial challenges in 2016 – indeed, the National Service Plan as approved by my colleague Minister Varadkar, acknowledged the financial challenge facing the sector in 2016.

“ The late approval of the 2016 Estimates has allowed the Government an opportunity to reconsider the Health Estimate in light of the emerging financial pressures. 

“I am very pleased to now announce that the Government is asking the Oireachtas to allocate a further €500m Exchequer funding for the health sector for 2016. This brings the gross current budget for the Health Sector for 2016 to €13.695 billion.” 

Online Editors

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