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Estimates for Public Services 2016 (Resumed)

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Estimates for Public Services 2016 (Resumed)

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Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Helen McEntee)

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Snippet Contents:

I thank my colleague, the Minister for Health, Deputy Simon Harris, for his commitment to the health budget, as is clear from this discussion. In particular, I welcome the additional funding provided for home care services. In recent weeks I have engaged with numerous advocacy groups, officials from the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive and, most importantly, individuals who use home care services. Older people have consistently stated they want to stay in their homes and communities for as long as possible. Home care services are key to achieving this objective. In 2016 the HSE has a core provision of €324 million for home care services. Notwithstanding the significant improvements in the overall economic position, pressures continue to apply and demand for home care services is rising with an ageing and growing population. People want to be supported at home rather than in hospitals or nursing homes.
Without a shadow of doubt, home care services need more resources than are available. For this reason, the programme for Government commits to increasing funding for home care packages and home helps year on year in the coming period. Of the additional funding of €40 million provided for this area, €20 million will be allocated to ensure the services provided in 2015 are maintained; €10 million will be used to ensure the rate of service allocation can be maintained during the summer months, while €10 million has been ring-fenced for home care services as part of the new winter initiative. While there is always scope to do more, Deputies will agree that this is a step in the right direction.
Long-term care is one of the most challenging issues facing older people. Many reports, reviews and other documents have been written in the past 20 years, all of which ask the same question, namely, "How can we make Ireland a great place for older people to live in?" For the most part, the answer is the same - older people will live longer, healthier and happier lives if they live in a family or home setting.
As Deputy Michael Harty correctly stated, we need to change the current approach and move away from secondary to primary care services. It is my intention to set out a clear plan for how we can progress that vision.
As the Minister of State with responsibility for mental health services, I welcome the reinstatement of €12 million to the development budget. Just this week, I conveyed sanction to the HSE for the spending of €18 million in 2016. In addition, sanction has been given to spend €4 million, on a once-off basis, on minor capital works. A further €6.55 million will be spent in significant service areas, including in providing additional bed capacity, peer support services, to meet the additional cost of private placement of complex cases and additional posts to provide for improved patient safety in certain areas. Some €11.37 million will be spent on new developments outlined in the HSE national service plan. These include the development of early intervention and counselling services in primary care, further expansion of Jigsaw services in three cities, opening new acute care units and high-observation units and the provision of funding for the child and adolescent eating disorder service, the homeless and the mentally ill. A sum of €80,000 will be spent in meeting other commitments commenced in previous years. I am engaged in discussions with the Health Service Executive and other Departments on the figure of €12 million and will revert to Deputies on the matter as soon as possible.