Health budget will offer a helping hand to those who need it most – O’Connell

-   Kate O'Connell, TD

A Fine Gael TD has said that the increase in health spending announced in today’s Budget demonstrates the Government’s commitment to our health service.

Dublin Bay South TD, Kate O’Connell said: “This Government has demonstrated its commitment to improving the health of our nation with a raft of new measures focused on reducing the burden of health costs on families and older people, while at the same time improving services.

“Fine Gael is adamant that securing value for money is an absolute requirement that must be delivered to make the most of the additional €685m the health service will receive in 2018.

“The Government is committed to developing a health service that puts patients firmly at the centre, one which cares for patients on the basis of medical need where people feel valued, respected and well cared for.

“We are striving to achieve a health service that promotes positive lifestyles, both physical and mental and one that values healthcare professionals, for their skills and for their views.

“This budget has reduced prescription charges and reduced in the threshold for the Drugs Payment Scheme from €144 to €134 in an effort to help those who need it most.

“The reduction in prescription charges for all medical card holders under 70 from €2.50 per item to €2 per item with a subsequent reduction in the monthly cap from €25 to €20.

“By improving access to treatment we’re going make sure that our health service is better for everyone. This increase in our health budget allows the health service to plan for the challenge of increasing demand from a growing and ageing population.

“As part of the Access Plan a total allocation of €55m has been provided for the National Treatment Purchase Fund, almost trebling the amount allocated in last year’s Budget.

“Funding has been secured for the recruitment of an additional 1,800 frontline staff aimed at a range of frontline services across the acute, mental health, disability, primary and community care sectors.

“Mental Health funding is increasing by €35m in 2018 with a commitment to increase by €40m in 2019.

“This increase means that the overall Mental Health Budget has risen from €711m in 2012 to over €885m, an increase of €175m, or around 25%, in six years.

“The Budget 2018 increase will help to fund more staffing in Child & Adolescents (CAMHs), Adult and Psychiatry of Later Life services. The 7-day-a-week response will be enhanced as we move towards the provision of a 24/7 Mental Health service.

“In addition, further resources will be provided to programmes for Eating Disorders, Dual Diagnosis, Mental Health of Homeless people, Perinatal Mental Health, Prison In-Reach services, Mental Health and Intellectual Disability services, and Service User participation.

“Additional resources have also been allocated towards Primary Care, which provides health and social care services that you can find in your community, outside of hospital. It includes GPs, Public Health Nurses and a range of other services.

“People in need of treatment will benefit from €90m allocated to roll-out of the new Access Plan which will ensure that patients can avail of the medical care they need in the most appropriate setting for them.

“This will be particularly beneficial to the most vulnerable patient groups as we enter the coming winter months.

“This budget brings in numerous public health measures aimed at reducing the long term cost on our health service, such as the introduction of a sugar tax and the increase of the tax on tobacco while the VAT on Sunbeds has also been increased,” Deputy O’Connell said.

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