Thursday, 1 July 2021
Department of Health
481. To ask the Minister for Health the degree to which the administration of health services is moving towards the provisions set out in Sláintecare; the expenditure to date arising therefrom; the expenditure proposals for the remainder of 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29228/21]
The vision of Sláintecare is to achieve a universal single-tier health and social care system, where everyone has equitable access to services based on need, and not ability to pay and to deliver safe, quality health and social care services that meet the needs of our growing population, and attracts and retains the very best healthcare clinicians, managers, and staff.
Considerable progress has been made in moving from vision to reality. The commitment to Sláintecare was reconfirmed in the Programme for Government and Budget 2021 invested in staffing and infrastructure to enhance the permanent capacity of our health services and expand the scale and range of services to be provided in the community. Major foundational decisions were made by Government, including the establishment of the HSE Board, and the approval of the geographies for six new regional health areas. There has been progress against all of the eight Sláintecare Principles from the Oireachtas Sláintecare Report, including the patient being paramount; timely, needs-based care; prevention and public health; and engagement with citizens and staff. This was done against the backdrop of COVID-19 which has challenged our healthcare systems in a manner never previously seen.
Budget 2021 allocated €1.235 billion to Sláintecare-related initiatives in 2021, including €136 million capital allocation. The allocation included €467 million for increased acute and community bed capacity to progress implementation of the 2018 Capacity Review, €150 million for enhanced Community Services, €133 million for social care expansion, €128 million for eHealth (including €95 million capital), €121 million towards implementing National Strategies & Expert Reviews, €90 million for additional Services for People with Disabilities, €78 million towards improving Access to Care, €25 million for GP access to diagnostics, €23 million to Mental Healthcare expansion, €15 million for Health & Wellbeing, and €5 million for Community Paramedicine / Critical Care Retrieval / Pathfinder / 1813 Medical Helpline / NEOC.
The Government has now approved a new three-year Sláintecare Implementation Strategy & Action Plan 2021-2023. The new plan will build on the commitment and desire for innovation, demonstrated during the pandemic, and build on the unprecedented levels of investment in our health service. The Strategy will focus on two new reform programmes. Programme One: Improving Safe, Timely Access to Care and Promoting Health & Wellbeing will focus on integration, safety, prevention, shift of care to the right location, productivity, extra capacity and achieving Sláintecare waiting time targets. Programme Two: Addressing Health Inequalities will bring us on a journey towards universal healthcare. Eleven associated Projects have been developed and are aligned with key national strategies, policies and initiatives.