MINISTER FOR HEALTH James Reilly has given the green light to the proposed Health Service Executive service plan for 2012.
The plan lays out what the HSE’s €13 billion budget will be spent on over the next 12 months. Reilly claims that despite the drop in the amount of money that can be spent, the level of services has not been decreased.
Previously, he had told the HSE that a cut in budget should not mean an equal cut in activity.
The Minister said the proposals for health and personal social services were worked out after “rigorous examination” to minimise the impact on frontline services.
Reilly added that the process prioritised those areas in greatest need, such as primary care, mental health and children.
The plan, which was redrafted last week on the request of the Minster, will be laid out before the Dáil tomorrow morning.
There have been a variety of leaks about the plan in the last couple of months. It is understood that hospital funding could be cut by anywhere between 5 and 12 per cent.
Last month, the Irish Times reported that up to 900 beds could close in community run nursing units as part of the new efficiencies.
A major element of the plan is to improve primary care services and remove cost barriers to GP access.
Reilly told the Dáil this week that all claimants of free drugs on the Long-Term Illness Scheme will have fee access to GP care by this summer. Those who are signed onto the High-Tech Drugs Scheme will receive care from GPs without cost from 2013, he added.
Further access to free GP care will be phased in over time, revealed the Minister.