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Policy issues concerning Health

The latest outpatient waiting lists indicate that 563,410 patients were awaiting an appointment as of November 2019, an increase of 47.5% since 2014.  Almost 30% were waiting 0-3 months while 18.7% were waiting 18 months or more.  With health expenditure at an all-time high, how is the health service failing so many?

Social Justice Ireland has consistently highlighted the need to strenghten the resourcing of home care and home care pacakges, and has consistently advocated for a statuatory basis to the right to home care.  We welcome the recent publication of a Report on the Provision of  Home Care Services by the Oireachtas Committee on Health.

Ageing will be a dominant theme in the 21st century according to The United Nations World Economic and Social Survey. How we think about ageing can impact the policies we introduce and the supports we deem necessary.  Dr. Diarmuid O'Shea (Irish Gerontological Society) presented on the theme of ageing as an opportunity to add healthy years to life at our Social Policy Conference and emphasised that health and social care expenditures for older people need to be seen as an investment, not a cost.

People should be assured of the required treatment and care in their times of illness or vulnerability.  Yet in Ireland the healthcare system still struggles to provide an adequate service to everyone, and despite recent increases in resourcing we still have very high levels of unmet care needs.  

The Government recently published the 2019 Spending Review of Carer’s Supports.  The findings of this review point to a need to increase investment in community care, and home help and to provide a statutory entitlement to Home Care Packages if we are to meet potential future demand.

Healthcare services are fundamental to wellbeing - important in themselves and important to economic success in a range of ways, including improving work participation and productivity. Securing healthcare services and infrastructure is a key policy area that must be addressed urgently as part of Budget 2020.

Among the key findings from the National Social Monitor - European Edition are that quality of housing, the burden of housing costs, financial distress, difficulty in making ends meet and the environment are key issues in Ireland and across the European Union.  As we face into European Elections in May these issues are certain to feature strongly.

Providing good mental health services is a necessary investment in the future wellbeing of the country.  Research and development in all areas of mental health are needed to ensure a quality service is delivered.

Support for people to remain in their own homes is a key and appropriate policy objective and coincides with the wishes of most older people. A key component of this is a statutory basis for home care packages.


The estimated cost of the overrun of the budget for the National Children’s Hospital currently stands at €450m.  Details have emerged of where the €99m to cover the cost of the National Children’s Hospital overrun in Budget 2019 will come from.   This will have an impact across a number of Departments and projects in 2019 and comes with a social and economic cost as well as a political one.  Government has yet to identify where the remainder of the €350m to cover the cost overrun will come from.  This information should be made available to the Oireachtas as soon as possible.

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