What the NSP will fund – Ministers

The HSE National Service Plan 2018 will provide Increases in Respite and Home Support Hours, Speech and Language Therapy, Community Intervention Team referrals and Paediatric Homecare Packages, according to Health Minister, Mr. Simon Harris. Maureen Browne reports.

The Minister said it would also provide improved access to Mental Health Services, Drug and Alcohol Treatment Services and Maternity services, including Anomaly Scans
The focus of the plan would be on cutting waiting lists and improving access to hospital services while a Value Improvement Programme would be set up.

He said, “I’m pleased that the HSE intends to refocus efforts to achieve the best outcomes and value for money through the establishment of a Value Improvement Programme. This will consider how to reduce the costs of delivering services without reducing the level or quality of the services provided.

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“The provision of additional funding for primary care will enable a range of initiatives to be progressed in 2018 which will aid in the shift to primary care.

“The focus will be on disease prevention and early intervention, particularly through the further development and expansion of GP services, Community Intervention Teams and the recruitment of additional therapy posts.  There will also be a continued focus on the development of primary care centres and primary care teams.  In relation to GP care I am optimistic that agreement can be reached with GP representatives in the coming months on significant service developments that can also be introduced during 2018.

This will consider how to reduce the costs of delivering services without reducing the level or quality of the services provided.

“I am also pleased to note the new section of the Service Plan which is dedicated to Women and Infants Health.  I was pleased to launch the National Women & Infants Health Programme’s Implementation Plan for Ireland’s first National Maternity Strategy in October.  I am delighted that funding will be provided to roll out the Strategy in line with the Programme’s priorities for 2018, which include improving quality and safety, developing community midwife teams and increasing access to anomaly scans.  Such developments will facilitate the on-going implementation of the new model of care and deliver tangible improvements for the 80,000 families who access maternity care all around the country each year.

“The National Service Plan 2018 will continue to deliver on my priorities in relation to waiting lists, including building on progress which is underway in the reduction in waiting times for paediatric orthopaedic services and treatments for scoliosis. The National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) budget will be increased by €35m in 2018, bringing its total budget to €55m next year.  In 2018, the HSE will continue to work closely with the NTPF to ensured improved access to treatment for patients using this increased funding.

“Tackling overcrowding in EDs is another key commitment of this Government and the 2018 Budget ring-fenced an additional €30m for winter initiatives and measures to improve access to unscheduled care and alleviate pressures on Emergency Departments in 2017, with €40m for the delivery of such measures in 2018.  The additional funding will be used to increase bed capacity this winter and moving forward, as part of the National Service Plan 2018.  This funding will provide for surge beds to be open in the winter period and also permanent additional beds for the system.

“The proposed development of cancer services in the National Service Plan 2018 will allow us to progress the implementation of the National Cancer Strategy 2017-2026, launched in July of this year, under the four broad goals of the Strategy – : reducing the cancer burden, providing optimal care, maximising patient involvement and quality of life and enabling and assuring change.

“The proposed allocation will support the development of cancer services across prevention, diagnosis and treatment, including medical oncology, surgical oncology and radiation oncology. Next year will also see a hugely increased focus on the health and wellbeing of cancer patients following on from their treatment. The aim will be to enable patients to return to as normal a life as possible.

The Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Disabilities, Minister Finian McGrath said he was particularly pleased that an additional €10m would further enhance respite services.  The provision of 12 new dedicated respite houses around the country, as well as extra funding for other innovative respite solutions, was intended to support individuals with disabilities and their families.

The National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) budget will be increased by €35m in 2018, bringing its total budget to €55m next year.

Minister of State for Health Promotion and the National Drugs Strategy, Minister Catherine Byrne said  an allocation of an additional €4m would help expand drug and alcohol treatment services, reduce waiting times to access treatment and increase the number of drug and alcohol liaison midwives.  A further €2.5m had been provided to maintain the focus on supports for people from marginalised groups who experienced health inequalities.  The additional funding would address the health needs of people who were homeless and had mental health and addiction issues.
The HSE would increase the level of expenditure on specialist in-reach and out-reach services for homeless people.  This funding would also be used to respond to the pressing health needs of refugees arriving in Emergency Reception and Orientation Centres.  This resulted in €6.5m additional resources in 2018 to improve the health outcomes of the most vulnerable in society, including those with addiction issues, the homeless and refugees.

The Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Minister Jim Daly, said, that In 2018, there would be a €35m increase in expenditure in Mental Health. There would also be €55m made available for mental health services in 2019.  Taken together with the €35m in 2018 and the €15m allocation in 2017, this would bring the total allocation over the period 2017-2019 to €105m.  This would deliver on the commitment to full implementation of A Vision For Change and allow for many of the actions recommended in the National Youth Mental Health Task Force report to commence in 2018.  Priorities in 2018 included improved 7-day response in mental health services, expanded out-of-hours and liaison services for both adult and children.

A budget of €961m for the Nursing Homes Support Scheme in 2018, would continue to support access to quality nursing home care.