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Extending services in primary care ‘a priority’ – Varadkar

The 25 health priorities, published today, provide “a clear direction” for the development of health services and policy in 2015, said Minister for Health Leo Varadkar.

Priorities in the area of patient outcomes and safety include reducing the number of patients on trolleys in EDs waiting for admission for over nine hours by one third to less than 70.

Another priority is developing and implementing a plan to address waiting lists, with a focus on very long waiters, “such that by mid-year, nobody will wait longer than 18 months for in-patient and day-case treatment or an outpatient appointment, with a further reduction thereafter to no greater than 15 months by year end”.

Agreeing a plan for the extension of HIQA regulation to other health and social care sectors, commencing in 2015 with private healthcare providers, is also prioritised.

Meanwhile, in the area of universal healthcare, the plan commits to extending GP services without fees to all under-sixes and the over-70s.

Putting in place models of care that improve the way people can access services, by supporting new models of chronic disease management, increasing GP access to diagnostic services and progressing the provision of minor surgery in primary care, is also a key goal for 2015.

A number of policies, including on obesity and sexual health, as well as strategy documents, such as on positive aging, cancer and maternity care, will be published. A policy framework on healthcare commissioning will also be developed.

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