Two-year deal aims to resolve health budget rows

Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

A two-year deal aims to end the wrangling over how much funding the Department of Health should be given.

Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe said after “significant” engagements, a deal for 2024 and 2025 had been reached with the HSE and the Department of Health.

Under the deal, announced as part of the Summer Economic Statement published on Tuesday, an extra €1.5 billion is being given to fund Health this year, with a further €1.2 billion for next year.


Mr Donohoe said the extra funding was being allocated due to the demand for better quality healthcare, the complexity of providing health services – including an aging population – and the effect of inflation and the Covid pandemic.

He said the three party leaders of the coalition government agreed the funding boost provides “an opportunity to strengthen financial planning and governance within the HSE” and to link “significant” financing with “improved outputs and better control”.

Mr Donohoe said he was “beyond confident” that further funding for health would not be needed in the autumn.

“The Summer Economic Statement today marks a very different way in trying to reach an agreement in relation to health funding,” he said.

“That is a sign of my commitment to get the balance right between moderating health spending in the second half of the year, but recognising that if we don’t put new funding in place this year, it will make the challenges for next year even harder.”

He said that the new deal would mean the situation in health will be clearer next year, and that the extra funding given to date was having an impact on waiting lists, which were falling for the second year in a row.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly welcomed the two-year agreement in a statement and said Ireland has one of the highest life expectancies in the EU.

He said since 2020 there have been almost 1,200 more hospital beds, over 28,000 additional health staff, including over 9,500 new nurses and midwives, 4,250 health and social care professionals and 3,100 doctors and dentists.

“Our survival rates for cancer, stroke, infant mortality, and heart attacks have hugely improved. Our outcomes clearly show that our health service is delivering quality care.

“Waiting lists have fallen, with the number of patients waiting longer than the agreed Sláintecare targets (10/12 weeks) falling by 27 per cent since the pandemic peak – that’s 170,000 people.”

He added: “We know that with an ageing and growing population there will continue to be significant pressure on our health service, and I welcome the agreement reached with Minister Donohoe that ensures significant funding for our health services this year and next.

“While I will continue to fight for increased investment in our health service, we must also continue to ensure that our investment and existing resources are maximised. This is to ensure we treat as many patients as possible and can expand services.

“I have introduced a strong focus on productivity and the need for stronger performance management and accountability. I have made it clear to the HSE that it needs to demonstrate greater progress here.”