Fianna Fáil Spokesperson for National Drug Policy & Urban Affairs John Curran says the 2019 HSE Service Plan is very disappointing in terms of new funding to tackle Ireland’s drugs challenges.

Deputy Curran explained, “The plan is devoid of any mention of Drug and Alcohol Task Forces or what funding will be provided to them. The Task Forces also receive direct funding from the Department of Health and initial indications I have received show that funding is likely to remain unchanged in 2019.

“What is clear from the Service Plan is that the HSE Social Inclusion division is receiving no funding for any new developments. Any additional funding is being spent on pay increases and maintaining existing services.

“It also evident that the HSE is finding it difficult to meet some of its targets. For example, the 2018 plan set a target of 3 days for the average waiting time from referral to assessment for opioid substitution treatment – the outturn was 5 days and the 2019 target is 4 days.

“We are now well into the second year of a new national drug strategy and if commitment to its implementation is to be judged by funding and services provided, then this plan gives great cause for concern”, concluded Deputy Curran.