The €14bn for the health service in 2017 shows we have returned to an “era of investment”, says Health Minister Simon Harris.
The €13.948bn budget, the biggest ever allocation for the service, was announced in the HSE national service plan. The investment represents an increase of €458.6m on 2016. It will include €439m which will be made available to the HSE via capital funding. A total of €81.3m will go towards expanding existing and developing new services.
“We are firmly now back in an era of reinvestment in our health service and this service plan that we are presenting here this morning is based on an increased budget of almost €1bn since Budget Day 2016,” said Mr Harris.
“Over the last number of years the health service has been asked to do more with less; this health service plan and this health service budget is now about asking our health service to do more with more.”
HSE director general Tony O’Brien said the plan has, in “round figures”, €1bn more than the service plan at this time last year.
“This year because of the funding we received mid-year, half a billion, we won’t be applying for a supplementary estimate this year. We are not planning to do so next year either. This is an important shift in the way the health service is funded,” he told RTÉ.
“That has enabled us to have a much more transparent process of accountability. If you are asking managers to manage against a real budget, where you can expect performance, that is one thing. If, on the other hand, you have come from a period of years where managers have known their budgets are not achievable, that is quite demoralising and corrosive to the notion of accountability.
“So this has been a very important shift that the Government made shortly after it came into office and this year, being able to build on that by another significant increase, means we have a service plan which is highly realistic.”
The HSE estimates there will be 24,000 fewer medical cards next year but that this will be offset by 50,000 more GP visit cards.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved