Responding to the funding details outlined in the HSE’s National Service Plan (NSP), published yesterday, the IMO president, Dr Ann Hogan, called for a public debate “about the gap between what was being proposed to be spent and what was demanded to provide a reasonable level of health services for a modern country”.
The NSP, based on a budget of €14.6bn, an increase of €608m (4.4%) on 2017, contains warnings that the HSE faces significant financial challenges in 2018, as a result of which it needs to make savings of €346m under a new Value Improvement Programme.
This programme will focus on improving value within existing services in acute hospitals, disability services, older persons’ services and primary care; improving value within non-direct service areas including the costs of corporate and “other overhead-type costs that exist at national and local level” and strategic value improvement.
Dr Hogan criticised the presentation of the plan “for focussing on amounts being budgeted for various activities whereas the real challenge was to measure that proposed spend against the rapidly rising levels of demand”.
Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI) welcomed the increase in the Nursing Home Support Scheme (Fair Deal) Budget for 2018.
CEO Tadhg Daly said the €961.7m budget allocation is a 2.3% increase on the €940m allocated for 2017.
However he said they provided a “cautious welcome as providers are under sustained pressures to meet increasingly high dependency and complex healthcare needs of residents presenting for nursing home care”.
“We reiterate our call for the review of the Fair Deal pricing mechanism, which was scheduled for completion in June, to be published,” he said.
Health Minister Simon Harris said he was “pleased that the HSE intends to refocus efforts to achieve the best outcomes and value for money through the establishment of a Value Improvement Programme”.
“This will consider how to reduce the costs of delivering services without reducing the level or quality of the services provided,” he said.
Finian McGrath, the Disability Minister, said additional funding was being allocated “to meet the cost of providing valuable supports for school leavers, respite and regulatory compliance costs”.
“I am particularly pleased that an additional €10m will further enhance respite services,” he said, as well as the provision of 12 new dedicated respite houses around the country.
Jim Daly, Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, said priorities in 2018 include improved seven-day response in mental health services, expanded out-of-hours and liaison services for both adults and children.