Minister lays out 2016 HSE service plan

The 2016 HSE National Service Plan has provided €12,987 million for the delivery of health and social care services in 2016.  Of this, €2,928.5 million was available immediately with a further €58.5m becoming available during 2016 once specific implementation plans have been agreed with the Department of Health, according to Health Minister, Leo Varadkar.

Health Minister, Dr. Leo Varadkar
Health Minister, Dr. Leo Varadkar

Laying out where the money will be spent, he said this funding allocation represented an overall increase of funding of €817 million (6.7%) when compared to 2015. This increase of €817m includes €720 million to maintain existing levels of service and a further €99 million to fund new service developments.

The 2016 Service Plan projects the delivery of an equivalent volume of acute hospital activity to that delivered in 2015, including inpatient, daycase, outpatient and emergency activity.

The Minister said the new developments to be funded with €99 million included:

Disabilities

“A total of €4m to provide an additional 75 therapy posts to complete the process of establishing geographically based Children’s Disability Network Teams and to facilitate innovative approaches to reducing waiting lists for therapies. An innovative approach to respite for people with a disability would be progressed, with funding provided for the development of a host family respite initiative.

“Additional funding of €7.25m has been provided to meet the cost of providing day supports and services for approximately 1,500 young adults who will complete their education or life-skills training in 2016 in line with the person-centred supports model set out in New Directions.

“Integrated early intervention services will be expanded so that children with disabilities can avail of mainstream pre-schools under the Early Childhood Care and Education Programme (ECCE) – this is a joint initiative with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs

“In addition, the HSE will continue to advance implementation of Time to Move on from Congregated Settings, by assisting up to 160 people to move from large institutions to homes in the community.”

A total of €35 million has been allocated for the further development of mental health services.

Mental Health

A total of €35 million has been allocated for the further development of mental health services.   Funding will be provided for the continued development of counselling services across both primary and secondary care, including the provision of two new Jigsaw youth mental health services in Cork and Dublin city centres.

The Minister promised continued development of Community Mental Health Teams and improved 24/7 responses and liaison services, developments in the Psychiatry of Later Life and perinatal mental health and two new mental health clinical programmes, specifically ADHD in Adults and Children and Dual Diagnosis of those with Mental Illness and Substance Misuse.

Primary Care

Dr. Varadkar said funding was in place to enable the extension of free GP care to the under-12s in 2016, subject to contractual negotiations with the IMO. Funding was being provided to enable more GPs to refer patients directly for ultrasound and x-rays in primary care and to increase minor surgery capacity in general practice. Investment in primary care also included extending the 2015 minor surgery project for further practices and the targeting of activity transfer from acute hospitals of up to 10,000 procedures and extending direct access for GPs to ultrasound and x-ray, building on the HSE’s 2015 pilot initiative.

National Ambulance Service

“Extra funding of €7.2 million is to be provided for the National Ambulance Service to ensure that response times were maintained, including €2 million to recruit and train extra staff and expand the Community First Responder Scheme.”

Maternity services

“A total of €3 million has been allocated for new maternity service initiatives being phased in during 2016, or more than €9 million in a full year.  These include establishing the National Women and Infants Health programme to lead on the Maternity Strategy, undertaking national maternity service improvements in line with HIQA recommendations and other relevant reviews, and beginning implementation of the National Maternity Strategy once published.

Immunisation

“Additional funding of €2.5 million has been provided for the addition of Rotavirus and Meningococcal B immunisation to the Primary Childhood Immunisation Programme. The HSE proposes introducing these vaccines in 2016, subject to the successful conclusion of negotiations on price with the manufacturers.”

Specialist services

“Funding of €3m is being provided in 2016 to continue the development of national specialist services including the stroke telemedicine service in order to support rapid diagnosis and treatment at smaller hospitals with support from specialist centres, and the continued investment in scoliosis services and the bilateral cochlear implant programme.

Paediatric services

“A total of €3.75 million is provided for paediatric service developments in 2016 including theatre capacity for orthopaedics and trauma. Funding is included to support the services for Duchene’s Muscular Dystrophy in the Children’s Hospital Group.

New units

“A total of €3.5 million is being made available in 2016 for the opening of new units including the Endoscopy Unit at Roscommon General Hospital, Wexford General Hospital Delivery Suite, St Luke’s Hospital Kilkenny Acute Floor including Emergency Department, Acute Medical Unit and Oncology Unit, St James’s Hospital, Dublin Mercer’s Institute for Successful Ageing.

Cancer services

“New funding of €10 million is provided for cancer services, including for cancer drugs and to support the expansion of Breastcheck and further develop the BowelScreen Programme.

Older People

“An additional €20m has been allocated in 2016 to maintain 2015 outturns of 10.437 million home help hours, 15,450 home care packages and 313 transitional care beds delivering 109 places per week during 2016.  In addition, approximately 130 Intensive Home Care Packages (first introduced in 2014) will be provided to support the discharge from acute settings of people with more complex needs. The Nursing Homes Support Scheme Budget for 2016 has been set at €940m, which represents an increase of €35m over projected expenditure in 2015.The 2016 provision will deliver 1,222,750 total weeks of care, supporting an average of 23,450 clients per week for 2016, which represents an increase of 649 clients per week on 2015 projections.