Health | Priorities of Department of Health regarding hospital and community care services
To ask the Minister for Health the priorities of his Department in the current year with a view to ensuring a high quality of hospital and community care service at all levels; the extent to which particular areas of sensitivity are being targeted with a view to resolution; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
My Department’s overall priority in 2023 is to progress the programme of strategic reform set out in the Programme for Government and Sláintecare so as to ensure the provision of a public health service which provides people with access to high quality, affordable care when they need it. A summary of the main priorities for 2023 in the acute hospital and community care services is provided below.
One of the top priorities this year is the full delivery of the Waiting List Action Plan, which was launched in March 2023 as the next stage of the multi-annual approach to reducing waiting lists and waiting times. My Department is also fast-tracking the development of new elective surgical hubs in Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Waterford to address shorter term capacity demands. There will also be a continued emphasis on Women’s Health in 2023, including progressing the implementation of the National Maternity Strategy and the further development of gynaecology services. The implementation of other important national strategies will also be progressed, including the National Cancer Strategy, the National Trauma Strategy, Strategic Reform of Pre-Hospital Emergency Care and the Strategic Plan for Critical Care. Furthermore, 2023 will see progress on the reform of Paediatric Services in preparation for the transition to the New Children’s Hospital, as well as the development and reform of Organ Donation and Transplant Services.
One of the main priorities this year in the area of Primary Care is the continued implementation of the Enhanced Community Care (ECC) Programme, which integrates health care responses between acute and community settings and re-orients the focus of service delivery towards primary and community care. Work will also continue on the delivery of the GP direct referral pathway to diagnostics, so that patients can access these tests quickly and without seeing a consultant or having to attend hospital.
A further priority in 2023 is to continue to progress community healthcare initiatives in the area of older persons services (including dementia care). Funding has been provided this year for the continued development of home support services, in order to help older people and people with disabilities to live well and safely in their own homes and communities.
In the area of mental health, implementation of Sharing the Vision, the national mental health strategy, and Connecting for Life, the national suicide reduction strategy, will continue in 2023. A particular area of attention for my Department and the HSE is to improve access to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) and to reduce waiting lists. Accordingly, additional funding has been provided under Budget 2023 to allow for a continued focus on waiting list reduction.
The HSE’s National Service Plan for 2023 sets out in full the type and volume of services that the HSE will provide this year, and I refer the Deputy to the NSP for more detailed information.
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