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ga - Cabinet signs off on Supplementary Budget of €665M for Health

Cabinet has today signed off on a Supplementary Estimate of €665 million for 2015 to cover extra services provided this year such as free GP care for the under sixes and over 70s, and the Winter Initiative to tackle ED overcrowding, in addition to once-off costs.

Minister Varadkar welcomed the fact that the funding has become available thanks to the growing strength of the Irish economy saying:

This is further welcome investment in the health service which takes account of some very important initiatives launched this year including the Winter Initiative, the successful extension of GP care to the youngest and oldest in society, reducing waiting times for a nursing home place from the Fair Deal scheme to between two and four weeks, and meeting tougher maximum waiting times for inpatient and outpatient procedures. It reflects the fact that we are providing new high-tech medicines to patients, and funding treatments under the Long Term Illness Scheme.

The Estimate covers both one-off bills for 2015 including the Symphysiotomy Payment Scheme and legal claims, and recurring costs. These recurring costs are fully incorporated into the base and expenditure ceiling which has been increased by €880 million in Budget 2016. I very much welcome this additional funding which shows that the Government recognises the need to continue investing in healthcare. I am confident that the health sector is entering 2016 on a more stable financial footing than has been the case for the last number of years.