Measures contained in Budget 2022 will help reduce patient waiting lists and the cost of healthcare for people, a Fine Gael TD has said.
Deputy Colm Burke, Fine Gael’s Health Spokesperson, welcomed an increase of over €1 billion in healthcare funding, with today’s Budget providing for total health expenditure in 2022 of €22.5 billion, to include both current and capital spending.
Deputy Burke said, “The Budget addresses three key health areas; managing the next phase of Covid-19, reducing waiting lists and improving accessibility which is crucial.
“With over 90% of those aged over 12 now vaccinated, we must continue to provide the necessary protections against the virus. €1 billion is provided in the Budget for Covid health measures including the provision of testing and tracing, the delivery of a booster vaccination programme and for PPE across the health system. These measures will assist in keeping our population safe.
“€250 million is provided in Budget 2022 to tackle hospital waiting lists. There is an urgent need to prioritise the reduction of waiting lists and also the time that people are waiting for necessary care.
“Additional funding has been provided for the recruitment of staff to bring the total number employed in the healthcare sector to over 144,000. This includes the provision of €10.5 million to increase the number of ICU beds to 340.
“The Government recognises the challenges that the cost of healthcare poses to families and older people. It has included measures such as the extension of free GP care for children aged 6 and 7, a lowering of the Drug Payment Scheme threshold to €100, a dental scheme for medical card holders as well as the reduction of the financial burden of hospital charges for children under 18.
“The Budget also seeks to improve accessibility through a number of care programmes, which is to be welcomed.”
Deputy Burke added: “There is significant investment of €31 million in Women’s Health including the provision of free contraception for those aged between 17 and 25, an increase in funding for sexual assault treatment units and implementation of the National Maternity Strategy and Gynaecological Model of Care.
“The Budget also provides for an extra €30 million for a number of national strategies including cancer care, development of trauma centres and transplant programmes. There is an additional €105 million provided for disability services, €32 million for mental health and €34 million for older persons/NHSS to fund ELS and new developments.
“This is a progressive health Budget which seeks to ensure all our people are cared for. I commend the Government for the measures included,” Deputy Burke concluded.