Home > Dáil Éireann debate. Investment in Healthcare: Statements [45267/23].

[Oireachtas] Dáil Éireann debate. Investment in Healthcare: Statements [45267/23]. (19 Oct 2023)

External website: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/dail/2...

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Hildegarde Naughton): ……………….


I will turn to developments in the areas for which I am responsible as Minister with responsibility for public health, well-being and the national drugs strategy, outline some of the progress made in recent years and set out some exciting new initiatives under way. Among the best uses of public money in our health service is spending to avoid the onset of medical conditions through the promotion of healthy lifestyles. A key element of this preventative approach is our healthy Ireland framework, at the core of which is the healthy Ireland fund. Working with partners including Departments, agencies, NGOs, community organisations and the country’s 31 local authorities, this fund focuses on health and well-being with programmes designed to counteract and prevent negative health outcomes as a result of smoking, alcohol, poor diet and physical inactivity, as well as addressing the wider social and environmental factors which impact on health and well-being. Established in 2017 with an initial annual budget of €5 million, we have gradually increased investment in the fund in the years since. Our budget for the fund in 2023 was just over €14 million and I was delighted to secure an additional €2.3 million for 2024, bringing the total to some €16.5 million. That represents an increase of 16%. That is new money and new investment in this important initiative.


As part of our response to tackling gambling addiction, some €500,000 will be provided in 2024 to develop supports for the estimated 130,000 people with problems in this area. Since my appointment to the Department of Health almost ten months ago, I have met many people who use drugs, some of whom are living with addiction, medical experts and people delivering addiction services on the ground. One key message that I have received has been that we need to change how we think about and tackle drug misuse and addiction.


At the heart of this is ensuring that core services are funded and in 2023, I provided an increase in core funding for our drug and alcohol task forces and section 39 organisations. Knowing the importance of education, I also provided €1.5 million in funding for a drug and alcohol education and awareness programme, the first time such funding has been provided. For 2024, we are going to deliver new groundbreaking services never before provided. They include dual diagnosis hubs, which will support the recovery of young people with drug dependency and mental health issues, and dedicated funding for services after people embark on their road to recovery to support their integration into everyday life through housing, employment, education and other supports. It is important to note that in the last two years alone. funding for our drug and alcohol services has increased by almost €10 million. I am keen that we continue to build on this so as to ensure the fantastic care that is provided from within the community is supported.


In conclusion, I would like to pay tribute to all the workers and professionals working across our healthcare system for their hard work and dedication, and to thank them for the care they provide to people who are often at their most vulnerable. These people are often forgotten in a politically-charged debate but it would be remiss of me not to pay tribute to their enormous contribution in helping to keep people healthy for longer.


[Click here to read the full debate]


Repository Staff Only: item control page