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Budget 2020: Bringing Sláintecare to life in our communities with 1,000 extra front line staff, 1 million extra home care hours & €100 million for NTPF - Health Ministers

Further expansion of eligibility for Primary Care Services & reduction in medicine costs

  • €60million to recruit 1,000 frontline staff into the community by end 2021;
  • €45million to support family friendly measures including expansion of free GP care to children under 8 and free dental care for children under 6;
  • An additional one million home help hours and the roll-out of a pilot statutory scheme;
  • Investment of €100million to help reduce waiting lists;
  • Reducing the cost of healthcare and increased income limits for medical cards for over 70's.

Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, has said today (Wednesday) that Budget 2020 is about bringing the Sláintecare health reform programme to life in communities across the country by delivering investment in key strategic supports.

Minister Harris said the Budget would also provide for expanded eligibility including free GP care for children under 8, free dental care for children under 6 and increased income limits for people over 70 to qualify for a full medical card. The cost of medicines will also be reduced in line with previous Budgets and the Sláintecare Plan.

Today, Sláintecare takes a major step forward, building on the work of the past year. The long-term funding commitment in Budget 2020 will see the shift to community care begin to happen in earnest with 1,000 front line community health care staff to be recruited, including therapists, nurses and other professionals.

Other proposals include:

  • €100 million for the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) to help reduce waiting lists;
  • A reduction of 50c in prescription charges from July;
  • Expansion of free GP care to children under 8 and free dental care for under 6's from September;
  • The monthly threshold of €124 for the Drug Payment Scheme will be reduced by €10 to €114 from September;
  • 55 new hospice beds opening in counties Kildare, Mayo, Waterford and Wicklow;
  • Opening the new National Forensic Mental Health Hospital at Portrane;
  • The full roll-out of a HIV PrEP programme;
  • €25 million in disability funding;
  • Investment in the maternity, cancer and dementia strategies, and a new autism plan.

One million additional home care hours will ensure that we support people to be cared for in their own homes for as long as possible, instead of in hospital or residential care. Alongside this we will begin to pilot a Statutory Home Care Scheme next year so that home care is regarded as a right in the same way as long-term residential care.

In line with Sláintecare we are continuing to expand eligibility for primary care services and reduce the cost of medicines to families and older people. From September, we will introduce free GP care to children by expanding to children under 8 years of age. We will also introduce free dental care for children under 6.

 In Budget 2020, I have prioritised reform of the health service, investing in our staff and reducing the cost of healthcare for our patients.

Minister of State for Disability Issues Finian McGrath said:

I am pleased that I have been able to both build upon significant existing resources and obtain additional funding for disability services. With these additional monies secured, the overall Budget for disability services in 2020 is in excess of €2 billion.

Funding for HSE Mental Health Services has increased from €711m in 2012 to €1bn in 2020, an increase of over 40%.

Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People Jim Daly said:

The announcement of a €1billion allocation to HSE Mental Health Services today represents this Government’s commitment to mental health as a priority area and reaffirms our continued support for service development and improvement in mental health services within the HSE.

In the current economic uncertainty of Brexit, I am especially pleased to see investment in mental health not only maintained but increased. This increased allocation will go towards providing vital services across the country, in line with the HSE’s 2020 National Service Plan, Sláintecare and the impending refresh of ‘A Vision for Change’.

Minister of State for Health Promotion and the National Drugs Strategy Catherine Byrne said:

I welcome the enhanced funding for the National Drugs Strategy and Healthy Ireland. I am delighted to have secured additional resources to implement the recently announced Government health diversion programme for people who possess drugs for personal use. I will also be providing resources for an awareness campaign about the dangers of drug use that will target high-risk groups. A further priority for me is the expansion of services in our maternity hospitals for pregnant and post-natal women affected by substance misuse, and their babies.

To achieve a Healthy Ireland, it is vital that we invest in prevention and support people to enjoy good physical, mental, and sexual health. I am therefore very pleased that we are funding a full roll-out of a HIV PrEP programme in 2020. Reducing the numbers of HIV diagnoses is a key priority under our Sexual Health Strategy.

Finally, I am delighted to announce that the 2020 allocation for the Healthy Ireland Fund will be €6 million, up from €5 million in Budget 2019.