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These are the country's 25 health priorities for this year

Getting people off trolleys features quite a bit.

Image: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

THE HEALTH MINISTER has released a list of the priorities that will be pursued by his department this year.

The list includes publishing bills on alcohol, plain tobacco packaging and the sale of tobacco.

The Department will also publish the findings from the first Healthy Ireland survey, giving an overview of the health of the nation for the first time since 2007.

The priority list also pledges to:

  • Reduce the number of patients with delayed discharges by one third to less than 500 and the number of patients on trolleys in EDs waiting for admission for over 9 hours by one third to less than 70
  • Develop and implement a plan to address waiting lists, with a focus on very long waiters 
  • Reduce the cost of medicines to patients and the taxpayer
  • Take the first concrete steps to provide a Universal Health service by extending GP services without fees to all under sixes and GP services without fees to the over 70s
  • Increase services available to GPs
  • Introduce measures to increase the number of people with health insurance
  • Securing planning for the new children’s hospital at St James’s
  • Submit planning for a maternity hospital at St Vincent’s
  • Build nine primary care centres
  • Publish a bill on assisted reproduction

Varadkar says that the priorities “provide a clear direction for the development of health services and policy in 2015″.

He said on RTÉ’s Sean O’Rourke show that waiting times could be cut by fixing “inconsistencies” in the system.

He said that some areas don’t have enough nursing homes and this is affecting the ability for hospitals to discharge elderly patients.

He said that the country was “not good at steamlining best practice”, but says that this is due to be tackled this year.

On alcohol, he said that the issue of alcohol sponsorship in sport was “still a matter of debate” around the cabinet table.

Varadkar had opposed a ban on sponsorship when he was sports minister, and said that he hasn’t changed that view.

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