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The committee will be examining the health care spending plans for this year.

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Funding for Covid-19 measures will reduce by 58%, dropping to €697m, compared with €1.6 billion last year

The Minister of Health, Stephen Donnelly, has stated to the Select Committee on Health members that 2021 was a challenging year, with significant consequences from Covid-19 and the necessity to implement the vaccination program.

Mr. Donnelly declared that not all new measures planned for the year could be completed last year.

The official said that about EUR650m of the EUR1.16 billion was spent last year.

The minister added that the amount of money available for additional capacity and reforms this year is more than EUR800 million.

The minister stated that it would provide funding for the growth of the workforce in health care, which will include approximately 10,000 employees and 300 more acute beds, and three million additional home health hours.

The committee has also been informed that EUR350m has been given to help with waiting lists this year.

Minister Donnelly announced that he would be extending the availability of free General Practitioner Care for children between 6 and 7, which will benefit around 80,000 more youngsters this year.

Discussions between the Irish Medical Organisation on this are in progress.

A report for the committee today will show that administration funding will increase by 11%. Meanwhile, funds for Slaintecare reforms to health will drop by 21% compared to last year’s.

The report states that the funding for Covid-19-related measures will be reduced by 58%, falling to EUR697m in comparison to EUR1.6bn in the previous year since the effect of the virus is expected to diminish.

The Covid-19 funds will be used for booster vaccinations and vaccines and the testing and trace system and personal protection equipment.

An emergency reserve for Covid-19 this year’s year, of EUR100m for spending on day-to-day expenses and EUR100m for capital expenditure, is currently being held by the Government in the absence of the Health vote in general.

A comprehensive Secretariat Briefing Note to the Select Committee on Health indicates a Slaintecare Reform allocation for the year in question is EUR17.8m.

This is in comparison to EUR22.6m in the previous year and EUR45.5m in 2020.

Health

Health

The money is allocated to Slaintecare’s Slaintecare Programme Implementation Office (SPIO) and the Slaintecare Integration Fund (SIF), supporting initiatives that align with Slaintecare objectives.

The Department of Health has disclosed to the committee that its 2022 allocation will be reduced because of the Slaintecare Integration Fund (SIF) cut since money is transferred over to HSE to facilitate the mainstreaming of programs.

In addition, it states that the final payment is due for SIF initiatives this year, while six projects will be receiving one-off, temporary funding this year.

The total gross health expenditure for this fiscal year amounts to EUR22.1bn, the second-largest government expenditure sector.

The briefing note of the Select Committee points out that the health spending vote of the Department isn’t within the usual structure since it’s not organized along with programs but divided into a variety of sub-heads, unlike other votes for spending by the Government.

It states that in most situations, it’s impossible to connect the expenditure directly with specific output goals.

The Department announced in 2014 that it was working to change the system.

In its briefing note for the committee today in its briefing note to the committee for today, the Department of Health said that it is working towards creating a budget for the program and altering how the Health vote is structured to allow “greater transparency” regarding the budgeted expenditure.

However, the Department states that it will take time, and the financial systems of HSE must be changed to accommodate it.

The briefing notes for the select committee mentions that wait times were reduced by a slight decrease in waiting lists for outpatients between January and December.

However, 108% in waiting lists for gastro endoscopy showed up. There was also an increased number of inpatients and day patients who had time for treatment.

The Department of Health has disclosed to the committee that EUR350m is allocated to waiting lists this year.

Of this sum, EUR200m will be given directly to HSE, and an additional EUR50m will be allocated towards the National Treatment Purchase Fund, which already has a base reserve of EUR100m.

The capital investment for health, in general, this year is EUR1.06bn.

This includes EUR865m to be used to construct and furnish health facilities.

One of the most important projects is the construction of the brand-new National Paediatric Hospital, progressing the current National Maternity Hospital project and additional capacity for hospitals and acute facilities, such as mental health.

There is a promise to create 19 additional ICU rooms in hospitals for the acute this year. This is in addition to 66 beds that were funded last year, bringing the total amount of ICU beds to 85.

The Department claims that it plans to have the 340 ICU beds operating by early 2023.

Select committees examine the spending plans earlier than in prior years.

Brian Santiago

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