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Health | Plans to deal with staffing levels, waiting lists, access to GP services, availability of rare and orphan drugs and bed shortages

To ask the Minister for Health the extent to which he might be in a position to introduce a plan to deal with the most urgent health issues at the present time such as adequacy of staffing levels throughout the service, waiting lists, access to GP services, availability of rare and orphan drugs and bed shortages as required throughout the country in line with the ever-recurring issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


The investment in Budget 2023 – of €23.4 billion – is the highest funding to the health service in the history of the state. This is the third-year in a row of record investment. It will facilitate better access to affordable, high-quality healthcare for people at a time when the cost-of-living crisis is impacting on everyone. Some key highlights in response to areas raised by the Deputy include:

  • 430,000 more people will be eligible for free GP care. Adding children aged 6 & 7 later this year, means half a million more people with access.
  • Budget 2023 sees €443 million specifically targeted at waiting lists.
  • Since 2020, we have delivered approximately 2,000 acute, critical care and community beds to date, with a further 232 beds on stream in 2022. Approximately 200 more beds will be delivered in 2023.
  • Our health workforce is continuing to grow at a record pace with the workforce expanding by 5,422 by the end of 2022. Budget 2023 sees funding for a further expansion of up to 6,000 in 2023 to continue the government’s significant investment in the Irish healthcare system.

There are many important new initiatives across a range of important health issues that impact all of us. Under the Health Act 2004, the HSE prepare and submit a service plan for my approval.  This plan must indicate the type and volume of health and personal social services to be provided, capital plans proposed, contain estimates of the number of employees of the Executive for the period, the services to which the plan relates and any other information that is specified. That is to say, the National Service plan addresses all the areas to which you refer; waiting lists, addition of bed capacity, recruitment and workforce planning etc.

Following a review of the 2023 National Service Plan, the HSE is currently revising the plan in line with considerations and feedback provided by my Department and other stakeholders.  On that basis, I expect to receive a revised NSP shortly for consideration.

In line with the Act, the NSP, when approved, will be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas within 21 days.  After this the HSE will ensure it is published at the earliest possible time.




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