Cabinet to discuss healthcare reform

Health Minister Simon Harris will today discuss the cross-party report on healthcare with Cabinet colleagues and update them on Ireland’s bid to lure the European Medicines Agency here.

Cabinet will also here of a report on the Eircode system and what differences it is making for both public and private services.

Leo Varadkar will hold his first full Cabinet meeting after the brief round table discussion he had with ministerial colleagues last week after being elected as Taoiseach.

Several new ministers are still getting their feet under the table while others are settling into new portfolios as part of changes made by the incoming Taoiseach.

Mr Harris though will discuss the Oireachtas committee healthcare report which was launched a number of weeks ago and has made radical recommendations.

The healthcare plan backs free GP and hospital care, cuts to the prescription charge and the cost of monthly drugs for people.

It is understood Mr Harris will tell colleagues that many of the recommendations can be implemented as they are in line with long-term government policy.

A central part of the report is a decisive shift towards primary care and enhancing integration between primary and acute care.

Proposals to develop capacity in both HSE primary care services and in contractor-provided services such as GP and community pharmacy, increased provision of diagnostics capacity, a greater role in the management of chronic conditions, and measures to support GP practice in rural and deprived urban areas all “dovetail with actions” in the programme for partnership and will be fundamental to supporting this shift to primary care, said government sources.

Mr Harris is also expected to point out that other proposals and recommendations such as healthy Ireland strategy, eHealth, clinical governance, enhanced community nursing, and current strategies in the areas of maternity care and mental health are being worked on.

The Dail will debate the report on June 22 where afterwards Mr Harris will again update colleagues about his plans to implement parts of the report.

Elsewhere, with Brexit talks now under way, Mr Harris will update the Taoiseach on the progress being made to lure the European Medicines Agency to move its offices here from Britain.

Meanwhile, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has met housing authorities in relation to a promise to end the use of emergency accommodation for the homeless by the end of June.

He said last night that the meeting was to conduct a detailed examination of the work being done to help homeless families who are being accommodated in hotels and B&Bs on an emergency basis to exit that accommodation. Minister Murphy also said he was still eager to end the use of such accommodation for homeless families.


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