Scoliosis and mental health services to be boosted next year

HSE’s latest service plan warns of financial challenges in 2018

Tony O’Brien, Director General of the HSE with  Minister for Health Simon Harris  at the announcement of details of the HSE National Service Plan 2018. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Tony O’Brien, Director General of the HSE with Minister for Health Simon Harris at the announcement of details of the HSE National Service Plan 2018. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons


The HSE has said there will be significant investment next year in primary care, mental health, scoliosis services and respite care under an expanded health budget.

Overall health funding is to increase in 2018 by just over €600 million to €14.5 billion, the HSE has said.

However, HSE director general Tony O’Brien warned, in the foreword to the organisation’s service plan for next year, that while the increased level of funding was substantial, the health authority faced “a very significant financial challenge in 2018 in maintaining existing level of overall activity to which it was committed”, given the growing costs of delivering core services.

The HSE said the increased budget would allow for a €9 million investment to support the expansion of paediatric/adolescent orthopaedic services including scoliosis. And €25 million is to be allocated to the primary care area to support GP training, diagnostics, therapies, the appointment of advanced nurse practitioners and an expansion of community nursing services.

It said there would also be an investment of €15 million in mental health to support a range of key service developments while €10 million will be earmarked for the provision of respite care to support 400 individuals with a disability and their families.

Over €40 million in additional funding is to go to the acute hospital sector.

Additional beds and capacity is to be provided at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda; University Hospital Galway; University Hospital Limerick; St Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin; University Hospital Waterford; Cork University Hospital; St Luke’s in Kilkenny ; South Tipperary General and Roscommon University Hospital.

Critical care

The HSE said the additional funding would also be used to improve access to critical care services along with investment in services for people with spina bifida and spinal conditions. It said women and infant health services would be expanded through increased scanning and gynaecology services.

“Cancer services nationally will receive a total of €5.5million and this will allow for the expansion of services including radiotherapy treatment. This funding will provide ongoing investment in cancer drugs and with the numbers of patients now surviving their cancer following improved treatments and services, there will be further investment in the ongoing care for those who are surviving cancer.”

Welcoming the plan, Minister for Health Simon Harris said this was the fourth year in succession that significant additional resources were allocated to the health service.

He said funding for the National Treatment Purchase Fund would increase to €55million next year, facilitating improved access for patients to treatment.

Minister of State for Disability, Finian McGrath, said additional funding was being allocated to meet the cost of providing supports for school leavers, respite and regulatory compliance costs.

“ I am particularly pleased that an additional €10million will further enhance respite services. The provision of 12 new dedicated respite houses around the country, as well as extra funding for other innovative respite solutions, is intended to support individuals with disabilities and their families.”

Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People Jim Daly said an investment of over €18million for home support services would provide a further 754,000 hours and would support 1,170 people to leave hospitals.

He said the budget for the Fair Deal nursing home scheme would increase from €940 million to €962 million.