Healthcare report gets lukewarm welcome from Simon Harris
Minister for Health to only implement parts ‘consistent with Government policy’
Minister for Health Simon Harris: The Future of Healthcare report, which was drawn up by a cross-party group of TDs, envisages additional spending of €700 million a year to cut waiting lists, reduce or abolish charges and improve equity of access to services. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Minister for Health Simon Harris has signalled his intention to only partially implement the Oireachtas Future of Healthcare report.
Mr Harris will tell the Dáil debate on the report he welcomes “those elements which are consistent with current Government policy”, according to a Government source.
The report, which was drawn up by a cross-party group of TDs, has been criticised on costs grounds. It envisages additional spending of €700 million a year to cut waiting lists, reduce or abolish charges and improve equity of access to services.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is one of those who has expressed concern about the cost of the 10-year plan for health.
Mr Harris is expected to brief Cabinet on Tuesday on the report, which the Dáil is scheduled to debate under Private Members’ business later this week.
Mr Harris will then give “full consideration” to the report’s recommendations when he has heard views from across the Dáil at Thursday’s debate.
The Minister is expected to welcome the Committee on the Future of Healthcare’s achievement in establishing a future vision, based upon political consensus, for the health services, the source said. “In particular, he intends to welcome those elements which are consistent with current Government policy. Following this debate, he intends to return to Government with detailed analysis and proposals.”
Many of the recommendations align well with current Government policy and support initiatives already in train, according to Mr Harris. These include the need for a decisive shift to primary care, increased provision of diagnostic tests, more management of chronic conditions, and measures to support GPs in rural and urban deprived areas.
The support in the report given to the Healthy Ireland strategy, e-health, community nursing, maternity care and mental health are regarded as helpful and could add greater impetus to their successful delivery.
The arrangements for implementing the report are likely to combine a form of whole-of-Government support and oversight with recognition of the existing legislative and governance responsibilities of the Department of Health.