Ministers for Health announce investment of €23.4 billion in Ireland’s Health and Social Care Services

The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, Minister of State with responsibility for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler, Minister of State with responsibility for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy, Frank Feighan, and Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, Anne Rabbitte, has announced an investment of over €23 billion in Budget 2023 in Ireland’s Health and Social Care Services.

Budget 2023 will increase the eligibility of people for General Practice (GP) access cards. The scheme will be expanded to cover all children aged 6 and 7 by the end of 2022 and, from 1 April 2023, eligibility will further be extended to people who earn the median household income of €46,000 or less. This means that almost half of the population will have access to free GP care. It is envisaged that these measures will be supported by a significant package of additional capacity supports to GP practices.

Minister Donnelly said: “The significant investment in Budget 2023, the highest allocation of funding to the health service in the history of the state, will facilitate better access to affordable, high-quality healthcare for people at a time when the cost-of-living crisis is impacting on everyone.

“Half a million additional people will be eligible to access free GP care. This is a game-changer for our health service. Ensuring that more people can afford to visit their GP gives access to healthcare in the right place – one of the central commitments in the Programme for Government. It also removes the burden on people who may defer GP visits because they simply cannot afford it. All inpatient hospital charges will be abolished from 1 April, which amounts to a saving of up to €800 per person per year. This measure is of particular benefit to those individuals who are hospitalised more frequently but who do not hold a medical card. I am delighted that the additional financial burden these charges represent is being removed. These ground-breaking measures continue to create a health and social care service that offers affordable access to quality healthcare.

“I am very pleased to note that Section 39 organisations, Nursing Homes and hospices will be eligible to receive once-off additional support this winter from the once off Health sector fund of €100 million which Minister McGrath announced yesterday in Budget 2023. This fund is being allocated by Government to provide specific winter support to these organisations that provide such essential health services in the context of the significant challenges which they are facing currently.

“I am delighted to have also secured investment in important initiatives relating to Women’s Health, expansion of the free contraception scheme, and, for the first time, the provision of IVF services.”

Minister Butler said: “My priority as Minister has been to ensure that the significant work and investment in mental health and older people over the last few years is continued. As such, I am delighted to have secured an overall funding increase for 2023 of almost €150 million. In addition to this additional core funding, I am also anticipating significant support to hospices, nursing homes and S39 providers in the mental health and older person areas from the €100 million once-off Health sector fund noted above by Minister Donnelly. This investment will help these essential services in what will undoubtedly be a challenging period.

“I am announcing an additional investment of almost €12 million for new measures in services and social care for older persons, supporting the objectives of the Dementia Strategy. This investment ensures that the Healthy Age Friendly Homes initiative will be rolled out nationally, and the Meals on Wheels service will be expanded at a time when the most vulnerable in our communities need these services most.

“I am also announcing an overall increase of €72.8 million which includes additional funding of €14 million for new measures within our mental health services. This will facilitate the continued implementation of Sharing the Vision, enhancing early interventions and improving access to person-centered mental health services.”

Minister Feighan said: “We are all aware of the impact of rising costs and the associated stress on our health and wellbeing. The role of Healthy Ireland in promoting and protecting good physical and mental health and wellbeing will be more important than ever this Winter. I am pleased to announce an additional €15 million in funding for Healthy Ireland and social inclusion measures in Budget 2023. This includes an allocation of €1.3 million for new measures including social prescribing, vital support for mental health, and social connectedness.

“In recent weeks, we have seen the free contraception scheme come into effect and today, I am delighted to have ensured the extension of this scheme from 1 September 2023 to cover all women aged between 17 and 30, and if possible, to extend to aged 16. This is another landmark development for the health and well-being of the women of Ireland. I am also pleased to have secured additional resources to continue the implementation of the National Drugs Strategy which will enhance access and delivery of drugs and alcohol services in the community and also support the implementation of the forthcoming National Traveller Health Action Plan.”

Minister Rabbitte said: “As Ireland and the health service continue to manage the challenges arising from ongoing international events, the COVID-19 pandemic and rising costs in particular, the investment we are announcing in Budget 2023 will support people who are living with disabilities in one of the areas they need it most – financially. I am delighted to announce an overall increase of €177 million in funding for Disabilities. This includes €29.5 million to build long-term capacity for Specialist Disability Services and other Disability initiatives, future-proofing our health service for people living with disabilities. In addition to the increased core funding I have secured for 2023, I also anticipate that there will be significant support to S39 providers in the disability sector from the €100 million once off Health sector fund Minister Donnelly has mentioned above.

“This additional funding will help build capacity in priority areas, progressing implementation of actions in the Disability Capacity Review to 2032. This will include additional residential service capacity, and additional day service places to ensure that places are available for all of the 2023 school-leavers who require it.”

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