Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe has said overruns in the health sector have significantly contributed to the difficult in delivering a Budget in October which lines up closely with the Government’s plans from the first half of the year.
“In the past, it has proven difficult to deliver a Budget in October which lines up closely with the Government’s plans from the first half of the year,” the Minster said in his Budget 2020 statement.
“In part, this was due to cost pressures that have arisen especially in the health sector. Those overruns have had to be dealt with, on top of the planned budgetary package.”
Current expenditure in healthcare is set to increase by 6.3 per cent to €17.4 billion in 2020, according to the Minister.
“This represents a €1 billion increase which will be used to fund a supplementary estimate of €335 million and will ensure that we can continue to respond to the significant demographic changes that are placing greater demands on our health services,” Minister Donohoe stated.
“Among other changes, I am investing an additional €25 million in the National Treatment Purchase Fund to reduce waiting lists. I will reduce prescription charges for all persons by 50 cent. The monthly threshold for the Drug Payment Scheme is being reduced by €10 per month. I am also increasing medical card income thresholds for people over 70 by €50 for a single person or €150 for a couple per week. This will benefit up to 56,000 people. Following the success of the rollout of free GP care to Under 6s, from September, the Government intends to expand free GP care to children under 8 and free dental care for children under 6. These changes represent important cost of living reductions for the most vulnerable in our society.”
To further support older people to be cared for in their own homes instead of hospital or residential care, 1 million additional home care hours will be provided in 2020.
Funding to support the Sláintecare Implementation Strategy will include a ring-fenced Sláintecare Integration Fund of €20 million and €12 million Care Redesign Fund, as well as new investment in enhancing community healthcare services with the recruitment of up to 1,000 therapists, nurses and other healthcare professionals.