Healthcare was high on the agenda in today’s budget. Included in some of the big giveaways is the abolition of inpatient hospital fees.
In addition, the doctor’s visit cards will be extended to a further 420,000 people by easing the means test.
For the first time, funding for IVF treatment will be phased in from next year following legislation regulating fertility clinics.
Free contraception, launched in recent weeks for 17-25 year olds, will be extended to 16-30 year olds.
And the backlog of hospital waiting lists, as well as other delays in disability areas, will receive a €443 million package.
Here are some of the headline announcements – and the unknowns.
Abolition of inpatient hospital fees for adults
This is expected to come into force in April and save people without a health card or health insurance 80 euros per day – up to a maximum of 800 euros.
It was welcomed today by the Irish Cancer Society, who said it will be of great help to patients in difficult financial times.
Each time a patient visits a hospital for treatment without a health card, they are currently charged €80 per visit, up to an annual cap of €800.
It was a “significant announcement,” it said.
The downside, however, is that it will cost hospitals at least €360 million in lost revenue. It is not yet clear how these will be repaid.
Extension of family doctor visit cards to a further 420,000 people
This saves people up to €70 per visit but does not include the cost of free medication.
But already the Irish Medical Organization (IMO) has sharply criticized budget proposals to dramatically increase the number of people entitled to “free” GP care.
IMO has described the initiative as ill-conceived and ill-planned given current capacity, workload and workforce numbers.
General practitioners, the organization warns, will not be able to cope with the consequences of this proposal.
The extension of free family doctor care to children aged six and seven years announced in last year’s budget has yet to be implemented, but is promised before the end of the year.
Publicly funded IVF treatment ‘phased’ next year
This is still quite vague and should initially be limited.
Laws regulating fertility clinics have yet to be passed in advance. But any move to fund expensive fertility treatments, which cost around €4,500 to begin with, is welcomed.
443 million euro package to tackle waiting lists
This will target the ongoing crisis in hospital waiting lists, with record numbers awaiting an outpatient appointment.
It will expand access to diagnosis. But this year’s EUR 350 million fund will not achieve the goals.
Funding for the coming year will also go towards addressing delays in assessing needs for families with a disabled child.
Vat removed from defibrillators
This should allow more communities and organizations to invest in these life-saving devices for people going through cardiac arrest.
A catch-up program for HPV (human papillomavirus)
Vaccinations for boys and girls in secondary school and for women up to the age of 25 who may have missed vaccinations.
The vaccine, along with screening for women, is believed to be key to reducing cervical cancer rates.
Funding of 138 million euros to strengthen support for the disabled
This is done by providing additional recreation, day care and residential places as part of the severely disabled examination
Added to this is €150 million for older people, of which €18 million will go to new measures for the Age Friendly Home program to support older people living at home.
In addition, there will be the development of a national dementia strategy and support for the introduction of a new protection policy for adults
€58 million increase for mental health
This includes €14 million to continue the increased provision of mental health shelters, with further funding to ensure further progress towards Sharing the Vision goals.
However, the problems of the Irish psychiatric service go beyond this.
In particular, the CAMHS service for young people needs more staff. There is also a major problem with the repair status of several public psychiatric units.
Covid-19 – further allocation of 439 million euros
The pandemic is not over yet and Covid-19 infections will increase again this winter, although the extent of the increase is still unclear.
Regardless, it will absorb a lot of public funding in testing, PPE, and vaccinations.
A further €5 million was made available as additional funding for oral health services on a recurring basis. Also this year there will be a one-off provision of €9 million within the overall waiting list fund to help clear oral health backlogs.
operating costs of the hospital
There will be €100 million in support to cover rising energy bills benefiting hospitals and other facilities such as hospices.
https://www.independent.ie/news/budget-2023-and-health-abolition-of-inpatient-charges-and-420000-more-gp-visit-cards-42021299.html Budget 2023 and Health: Abolition of inpatient fees and 420,000 more family doctor visit cards