Behind the headlines of the eye-catching giveaways of the Budget are people who live in quiet desperation on waiting lists or in massive need – here is what we found out about how the €23.4bn of health funding for 2023 might affect them.
Hospital inpatient charges of €80 a night, up to €800 a year, will definitely be axed next April.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said some of the biggest beneficiaries would be those who found themselves in hospital often over a year.
A question mark still hangs over the timelines for the extension of free GP care to more than 400,000 more people by April. Much depends on whether GPs – many of whom cannot take on extra patients for safety reasons or without creating waiting lists – will be able to respond to extra payments and practice supports they are to be offered.
The eligibility for the GP card will extend to every household on or below an income of €46,000
Mr Donnelly’s view is if that you wait until the right time then no progress will be made. But when it comes to the crunch it will be a matter for individual GPs.
The eligibility for the GP card will extend to every household on or below an income of €46,000 after allowable expenses.
The phased introduction of publicly funded IVF financial support for people having fertility treatment will not start until September next year. He said the criteria for eligibility and the number who would initially benefit had yet to be worked out.
The measure – with €10m funding next year – will begin in a limited way with support for women using private fertility clinics initially, although he said the aim was to set up the service in public facilities. “I recognise how desperate many couples are for details but the criteria for eligibility has yet to be worked out,” he said. It will cost €30m in a full year.
The extension of free contraception, aimed at including women aged 16 to 30 – following on from the recent measure for 17 to 25-year-olds – will happen next year. Legal advice is being sought on whether 16-year-olds can be included given the age of consent is 17, although medical consent is set at 16.
It emerged yesterday that pregnant women who suffer severe morning sickness will be given the medicine Cariban, which will be prescribed free once guidelines are in place later this year.
Elsewhere are public patients on waiting lists. Progress has been made in reducing the numbers waiting longest this year but targets are still lagging and outpatient queues have risen, with issues such as a need for more space and overtime highlighted by some hospitals.
Much hope rests on talks on a new contract for hospitals consultants being finalised in the coming weeks
Hospital queues will be part of a €443m Budget package to reduce delays in various area of the health service.
Much hope rests on talks on a new contract for hospitals consultants being finalised in the coming weeks. There were signals yesterday from Department of Health secretary-general Robert Watt that smoke might rise soon.
It would mean all new specialists hired here working in the public hospital system, but few are sharing his optimism for an early resolution.
In the area of mental health and older people, Junior Health Minister Mary Butler said she had received an increase of almost €150m.
It comes against a background of the ongoing recruitment difficulties by the CAMHS mental health services for young people.
Financial supports for nursing homes that came into effect during the pandemic will continue to the end of the year. The Fair Deal scheme that subsidises nursing home care is getting an extra €47m.
The meals-on-wheels service will get €1.8m to expand and there is funding to implement a safeguarding policy for older people.
Families of a child with a disability would be relieved at another €11.5m to fund assessment of need as well as the return of therapists to schools, Minister of State Ann Rabbitte said.
How far this will stretch is still unclear in an area that suffers from difficulties recruiting staff.
There would be another €3.5m for community and voluntary organisations providing drug, alcohol and inclusion services, Minister of State Frank Feighan said.
The reality is, despite the Budget largesse, the demands on the health service across the board have never been greater.