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Ministers welcome €14.6 billion health budget

· €20 million for NTPF to tackle waiting lists
· 10,000 medical cards for children with disabilities
· Reduced prescription charges for people over 70
· Supports and services for school-leavers with disabilities
· €5 million to kick-start Healthy Ireland Fund

Minister Simon Harris and Ministers of State Finian McGrath, Catherine Byrne, Marcella Corcoran Kennedy & Helen McEntee have secured a total budget to €14.6 billion, the highest ever health budget.

For 2017, the Department of Health will have funding of €14,152 for current expenditure and €454 million for capital expenditure. This represents an increase of €977 million on the 2016 budget for current expenditure and €40 million for capital expenditure. The provision for 2017 represents a 7.4% increase on the original Voted Budget for 2016 and a 3.5% increase on the final projected 2016 outturn.

Minister Harris said: “Budget 2017 will deliver the highest health budget ever at €14.6 billion, demonstrating the Government’s commitment to investing the gains from a recovering economy in a better health service. Within these increased resources we can plan for the challenge of increased demand from a growing and ageing population, and begin some significant new developments which will over time deliver real improvements for patients on waiting lists, children with disabilities and older people.”

Minister McGrath commented: “I am very pleased that I have been able to both protect significant existing resources and obtain additional funding for disability services to address a number of priorities for disability services in the Programme for Partnership Government. I am also delighted to be have secured a further €10 million to enable all children who qualify for the Domiciliary Care Allowance to be provided with a medical card which will alleviate some of the pressures facing these families.”

Minister Byrne, welcoming the allocation of an additional €3m in Budget 2017 to support drugs and social inclusion measures, said: “The extra funding will enable the HSE to continue providing interventions aimed at improving the health outcomes of the most vulnerable in our society, including Traveller and Roma communities, those affected by addiction issues, those experiencing homelessness and asylum seekers and refugees. This will bring the funding available to the HSE for social inclusion services to over €131m next year.”

Speaking following the presentation of Budget 2017, Minister Corcoran Kennedy said: “The allocation of additional funding to Health and Wellbeing shows the Government’s commitment to the implementation of Healthy Ireland, the National Framework for Improving Health and Wellbeing, and to the commitments in the Programme for Government. The establishment of the Healthy Ireland Fund will allow Government to support innovative, cross-sectoral, evidence based projects, programmes and initiatives that support the implementation of the key national policies in areas such as Obesity, Smoking, Alcohol, Physical Activity and Sexual Health.”

Minister McEntee said: "I will initiate €35 million in new mental health services in 2017, which is in addition to the €35 million provided in 2016, which remains in the base funding for mental health. This will enable improvements to mental health services across a number of age groups and specialties, and assist the continuing development of an integrated approach to youth mental health and suicide reduction initiatives. I recognise that, as in previous years, projects initiated in 2017 may not be completed in that calendar year – however I am delighted that total mental health spending in 2017 will include additional capital funding of over €50 million for the award of the contract for the construction of the new National Forensic Mental Health Service in Portrane, the total cost of which is in excess of €150 million.

“I am also pleased to say overall funding for services for older people has increased to €765 million in 2017, which allows us to focus in particular on homecare services aimed at supporting people to continue to live in their own homes and also at facilitating discharge of older people from acute hospitals.”


National Treatment Purchase Fund
Additional funding of €15 million, rising to €50 million in 2018, will be used as part of a focused initiative to address waiting lists. The NTPF total 2017 allocation will be over €20m to undertake an initiative targeted at those waiting longest.

Health & Wellbeing
An initial allocation of €5 million will kick-start the establishment of a “Healthy Ireland Fund” to support the implementation of Healthy Ireland programmes and projects in a variety of settings, including education, local authorities, workplaces and communities.

Older People
An additional €10m in new development funding is being provided for homecare (including home help and home care package provision) to build on the very significant additional homecare funding provided in 2016. A further sum of €3.8m is being made available to support the increased cost of existing services.

The budget provides for continuation of the additional €30m for homecare announced in July 2016. Furthermore, a sum of €24m will be available to support homecare provision from funding made available under the Winter Initiative which will continue next year.

€2m is being provided in 2017 from within the Department’s Research programme towards a commitment to provide €10 million over the years 2017 – 2021 to support the continuation of TILDA, the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing.

The Programme for Government contains a commitment that all 18-year-old school leavers with disabilities should have access to supports and services which meet their needs as they make the transition from school to adult life. In 2017, approximately 1,500 young people with disabilities who leave school and Rehabilitative (Lifeskills) Training programmes will require continuing HSE funded supports and services. Additional funding of €10 million will also contribute towards the development of a number of other Programme for Government commitments including therapies, respite and other supports.

Funding is also included for a further €12m of additional costs associated with additional services introduced during 2016 and €18m in respect of the costs of compliance with national standards and pressures arising from emergency placements.

The budget also provides for the continuation of the additional €31m announced in July 2016.

Mental Health
€35 million in new services will be initiated in 2017 in addition to the €35m provided in 2016 which remains in the base funding of the Mental Health Services. As in previous years, projects initiated in 2017 will not be completed in that calendar year, however, mental health spending in 2017 will include additional capital funding of over €50 million for the award of the contract for the construction of the new National Forensic Mental Health Service in Portrane, the total cost of which is in excess of €150 million.

Primary Care
The budget provides for the commitment in the Programme for Government to provide a medical card to all children in respect of whom a Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) payment is made. In the region of 10,000 children for whom a DCA payment is made do not currently hold a Medical Card and will benefit from this measure once the necessary legislative changes are enacted by the Oireachtas.

Legislation will be enacted to reduce the monthly cap on prescription charges for those over 70 years of age from €25 to €20.

The Estimate also provides additional funding of €18.5 million to support the development of primary care services, including enabling the support of complex paediatric cases at home, maintaining increased Community Intervention Team capacity and meeting lease costs of new Primary Care Centres. Preparations for the next phase of discussions on a new GP contract are under way and will be a key priority in the months ahead.

Acute Services (including the National Ambulance Service and the National Cancer Control Programme)
Implementation of the National Maternity Strategy commenced in 2016, and further investment of €3m is provided in 2017. The expansion of Paediatric Services commenced in 2016 will be continued with additional investment in 2017 bringing the total funding available to €7.3m in 2017. This includes the development of an All Island Paediatric Cardiology Service.

2016 also saw the rollout of technology upgrades to the National Ambulance Service with an initial investment of €2m, increasing to an annual sum of €3.6m in 2017.

An additional €5m is being made available in 2017 for the development of new initiatives within the Acutes Services (including the National Ambulance Service and the National Cancer Control Programme).

Additional funding is also provided in 2017 to support the New Children’s Hospital Integration Programme.

Funding of €50 million is also provided to meet the increased costs of acute hospital services in 2017 associated with changes in the level and complexity of hospital activity.

Social Inclusion
Funding of €3 million is provided for preparations for the new National Drugs Strategy (which is currently being finalised for submission to Government early in the New Year) and other social inclusion measures.