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Financial Resolutions 2019

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Budget Statement 2019

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Snippet Contents:

I am very disappointed with the references in the budget to the health service. There is no appreciation of the health reality that faces ordinary people on endless waiting lists that are stretching and increasing year on year. This year, health spending has gone over budget by €700 million and a Supplementary Estimate will have to be introduced to cover it. We will add €1.05 billion to the health budget next year. Without meaningful reform, undoubtedly there will be an overrun in excess of €700 million next year.
Sláintecare is a plan to attempt to address these issues but there was scant reference to it in the Minister's statement, which was most disappointing. One must remember what Sláintecare is attempting to do, which is to reorient the health service towards primary and community care and deliver a single-tier health service that can be accessed not by finance, but by need, so that money should not inhibit people seeking a health service and they should receive treatment in a timely fashion. Sláintecare also attempts to move towards universal healthcare, particularly universal primary care. It attempts to integrate our primary care services with our hospital services.
Sláintecare outlined a funding model, which was completely ignored in the implementation strategy, of establishing a ring-fenced national fund that would be a single buyer for all health services. Of course, Sláintecare had an implementation plan. The Government is now using Sláintecare as a fig leaf for all of the ills of the health service and it is turning to Sláintecare as the solution to everything. Of course, it has the solutions to everything but only if there is funding. The budget did not outline how Sláintecare would be funded or how the transitional funding necessary to implement it would be put into place.
The budget has put the cart before the horse. It has expanded eligibility for free care before expanding the capacity to deliver it. It has given 100,000 people free access to primary care. This is welcome and it is in line with the Sláintecare recommendations but Sláintecare stated this could not, and should not, happen unless there is an expansion in capacity of general practice to deliver it. Tomorrow, the Department will go into negotiations with the representative organisations on GP contractual matters.