The Government has announced a new €22.5 billion health budget which includes a health resilience fund to respond to high inflation and increased patient demand “among an expanding and ageing population”.
Responding to Budget 2024 yesterday, medical representative bodies were critical. The IMO labelled Budget 2024 a “missed opportunity” for healthcare, while the IHCA expressed concern that it has not provided sufficient capital funding.
According to the Government, its health budget includes €500 million to “tackle waiting lists, including opening, and staffing six new surgical hubs”.
The new budget also has “increased” funding for digital health and a €36.3 million package of “surge measures to respond to periods of heightened demand across acute and community services”.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said “we’ve implemented several initiatives that remove cost as a barrier to healthcare”.
As examples, he citied “the abolition of all public hospital in-patient charges, the expansion of eligibility for GP visit cards, reduction of the monthly drug payment scheme threshold and the introduction of the free contraception scheme”.
On the continuing problem of waiting lists, Minister Donnelly said that the €36.3 million of surge measures “is to ensure our health service can respond to times of increased demand for urgent and emergency care”.
Minister Donnelly also said that he was “determined” that Budget 2024 funding will continue to “deliver targeted investment” for patients.
On the Healthy Ireland programme, Minister for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy, Hildegarde Naughton said that budget for the Healthy Ireland fund in 2023 was just over €14 million. She said next year will see an increase in that funding by €2.3 million.