HSE spends €3.3 billion on primary care

Primary care services face significant cuts and cost reduction targets in 2014, writes Maureen Browne.

HSE primary care schemes, through the Primary Care Reimbursement Service, face a budget cut of €231 million in 2014, as well as a carried forward cost reduction target of €353 million applied in 2013.

While reference pricing and prescription charges will deliver reductions and increased income, the plan for 2014 will involve comprehensive reviews of client eligibility to ensure that only those entitled to medical and GP visit cards receive them and retain them, according to the HSE.

A total of €3.3 billion will be spent by the HSE on primary care services this year, including €37 million on the new free GP Visit Card scheme for those aged under 5s.

The overall primary care budget is expected to cover services to the 1.88 million persons covered by medical cards, the 402,138 persons (including the under 5s) covered by GP Visit cards, 21.6 million GMS prescriptions, 944,288 Long Term Illness claims, 2.5 million claims under the Drugs Payment Scheme, 531,607 High Tech claims, 1.45 million Dental Treatments and 845,715 Community Ophthalmic Treatments.

The plan for 2014 will involve comprehensive reviews of client eligibility to ensure that only those entitled to medical and GP visit cards receive and retain them.

The HSE expects that during 2014 there will be 995,000 GP Out of Hours contacts, 14,820 referrals to Community Intervention Teams, 715,365 physiotherapy contacts overall, (face to face contact, visit or appointment) 141,331 patients will be seen for a first physiotherapy assessment, 71,540 patients will be seen for a first occupational therapy assessment, there will be 200,000 occupational therapy patients contacts and 22,114 patients who will receive orthodontic services.

In the social inclusion field, the HSE expects the following addiction and homelessness services to be provided:

  • A total of 9,600 clients will receive opioid substitute treatment (including prison service)
  • A total of 1,260 substance misusers (over 18 years) will commence treatment following assessment
  • A total of 105 substance misusers (under 18 years) will commence treatment following assessment
  • A total of 700 individuals will attend pharmacy needle exchange programmes per month
  • There will be 1,898 pharmacy needle exchange packs provided per month
  • A total of 2,000 service users will be admitted to homeless emergency accommodation each quarter
  • A total of 1,200 service users will be admitted to homeless emergency accommodation, whose health needs have been assessed and are being supported to manage their physical/mental health as part of their care/support plan.