Summary of Health Measures from Press Briefing

Published on: 20 January 2020

Tackle overcrowding in Emergency Departments

  • Increase bed capacity and aim for four-hour target wait for Emergency Departments.
  • Ensure there is an emergency medicine consultant present in EDs on a 24-hour basis.
  • Improve access to diagnostics for Emergency Departments and GPs with a new minor capital grant fund of €50m.
  • Remove recruitment embargo, target staffing allocations of additional consultants and nurses to critical areas in Emergency Departments.
  • Commence the 2,600 additional hospital beds recommended under the Capacity Review.
  • Significantly increase home care support hours to alleviate delayed discharges.
  • Examine how the district hospital network can be utilised more to provide step down facilities.

Reduce waiting lists and waiting times

  • Increase the National Treatment Purchase Fund to €200 million.
  • Put the emphasis on reducing waiting times.
  • Ensure that anyone waiting more than six months for a procedure will be able to apply to the National Treatment Purchase Fund.

Improve Management & budgetary accountability

  • Put in place an Office for Budget Responsibility in the Department of Health to oversee health spending and ensure reliable forecasts.
  • Implement the new regional structures proposed under Sláintecare.
  • Implement Mandatory Open Disclosure.
  • Enhance management practices to ensure accountability.
  • Ensure medical profession cooperate with corporate governance policy.

Recruit extra consultants

  • Negotiate a new contract with consultants.
  • End pay inequality for post 2012 entrants.
  • Recruit at least 800 extra consultants over five years.

Recruit more nurses

  • Recruit 4,000 additional nursing staff over the next five years.
  • Within this number we will ensure that GP’s practice nurse numbers are increased by 300 and public health nurses by 350.
  • Implement the safe staffing framework in all hospitals.
  • Target increased numbers to decrease the overreliance on agency staff.

Support General Practice in Rural and Urban areas

  • Expand free GP care on the basis of means in line with Sláintecare’s goals and in alignment with an expansion in capacity.
  • Implement the recently agreed changes to the GP contract and include provisions for its continuous assessment and improvement.
  • Negotiate a new contract to underpin General Practice for the next 30 years to include issues such as Women’s Health Programmes, Out of Hours Services and Services to patients in Nursing Homes.
  • Increase GP training places to 274.
  • Protect rural GP practices by increasing the allowance to €30,000.

Increase home care supports

  • Provide an additional five million hours of home care support.
  • Implement a statutory homecare scheme.
  • Deliver a ‘Carers Guarantee’ proposal that will provide a core basket of services to carers across the country regardless of where they live.

Support residential care and the Fair Deal

  • Increase Fair Deal funding by €225m.
  • Develop a national strategy for long-term residential care of our older people that includes current and future plans for the funding and financing of this care.
  • Ensure that no Fair Deal resident is charged for services they do not use.
  • Implement the proposed Fair Deal changes for farming families.
  • Introduce an independent appeal process for nursing home providers under the Nursing Home Support Scheme.

Enhance dementia care

  • Ensure that home support to be adaptable and responsive especially for conditions such as dementia.
  • Put in place a further 15 dementia advisers so as ensure one in each Local Health Office area and a dementia key worker to coordinate care in each Community Health Organisation area.
  • Examine the case for inclusion of dementia in the chronic disease framework.
  • Enable anyone diagnosed with dementia to apply for home helps or home care packages, including intensive packages within allocated resources.
  • Ensure new build Nursing Homes provide a Dementia Unit.

Strengthen the ambulance network

  • Provide an additional 20 emergency ambulances and 200 extra staff.
  • Maintain standards and target times to ensure all citizens across Ireland have a responsive and adequate ambulance service.
  • Ensure the full retention of ambulance services provided by Dublin Fire Brigade across Dublin.

Protect key Helicopter Emergency Medical Services

  • Enhance dental and oral health services
  • Consult with the dental profession on how the new oral health policy can be improved and implemented.
  • Work to address regional imbalances in the provision of dental staff.
  • Replace and improve the 1985 Dentists Act.

Enhance Maternity Services

  • Implement the National Women & Infants Health Programme.
  • Recruit more obstetricians and midwives as part of our recruitment campaign of frontline healthcare workers.
  • Support the re-location of the four stand-alone maternity hospitals in Dublin and Limerick to new hospitals on the campuses of adult teaching hospitals.
  • Ensure that anomaly scans are available in all maternity hospitals to provide high quality maternity services.
  • Financially Assist couples needing fertility treatment.
  • Ensure that ownership and governance issues in the new Maternity Hospital on St Vincent’s site are open, transparent and state owned.

Enhance Neuro-rehabilitation services

  • Establish a community neuro-rehabilitation teams in each of the nine CHO areas.

Protect Medical Card coverage

  • Implement the Budget 2020 increase in the thresholds for the over 70’s.
  • Ensure that those experiencing financial hardship due to very serious illnesses such as cancer will receive a discretionary medical card.

Reduce Health Costs

  • Reduce the Drug Payment scheme threshold to €100.
  • Reduce the Drugs Payment Scheme threshold for single households to €72.
  • Abolish prescription charges on a phased basis.

Restore confidence in the Screening Services

  • Implement the recommendations of the Scally Report and the RCOG reports.
  • Introduce HPV primary screening.
  • Make open disclosure a reality.

Support Cancer Care

  • Fully implement the National Cancer Strategy 2017-2026.
  • Increased investment in cancer research, including clinical trials;
  • Provide a clear plan and timeline for the delivery of at least one Comprehensive Cancer Centre.

Recruit more therapists

  • Recruit an additional 800 therapy staff.
  • Expand early intervention teams in schools within these resources.

Boost community pharmacists

  • Negotiate a new contract with pharmacists and expand their role.

Invest in infrastructure

  • Complete the National Children’s Hospital.
  • Support the relocation of the Dublin maternity hospitals.
  • Commence the construction of four new elective hospitals.
  • Provide a minor capital programme for equipment provision and replacement.

Promoting public health

  • Establish a new primary school healthy eating education programme to help cultivate lifelong good cooking and eating habits.
  • Issue National Planning regulations to create “No Fry” zones for new Primary and secondary schools.
  • Aim to make Ireland a tobacco free society Ireland on track for a 5 per cent rate by 2030.
  • Introduce increases in excise duty on tobacco products.
  • Ban vaping and e-cigarette products for U.18 and ban child focused flavours.
  • Implement the Public Health (Alcohol) Act and introduce Minimum Unit Pricing in conjunction with Northern Ireland.

National Drugs Strategy

  • Increase funding to drugs taskforces by €3 million annually over the next two years and then review the situation further.
  • Undertake a major education campaign on the hazards of casual drug use for which we will allocate €3 million.
  • Appoint representation at a senior level from the Department of the Taoiseach the National Oversight Committee (NOC) of the National Drugs Strategy.

NOTE:  Measures on disability and mental health to be announced separately

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