Dáil Éireann - Volume 463 - 14 March, 1996

Written Answers. - Health Service Funding.

43. Mr. Clohessy asked the Minister for Health his views on the claims of the Irish Hospital Consultants' Association that, in real terms, less funding is available to the health service in 1996 than in 1995 and as a result there will be cutbacks in the months ahead; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5908/96]

Minister for Health (Mr. Noonan, Limerick East): The nominal change in the Health Vote is a decrease of 1 per cent. However when account is taken of the fact that funding for the disabled person's maintenance allowance was transferred from the Health Vote to the Vote for Minister for Social Welfare and allowing for certain once-off items of expenditure in 1995, there is real [436] increase in the Health Vote of approximately 4 per cent. The Vote allows for the full year costs of developments initiated in 1995 and also includes a savings element of 0.7 per cent of non-capital expenditure, which as the Deputy is aware was required of each Minister, in the context of the 1996 Estimates. The savings have been used as a contribution towards the cost of further service developments approved for 1996 in line with the Government Programme and the action plan contained in the health strategy. These developments include child care services, services for the mentally handicapped, the physically disabled and the elderly, psychiatric services, dental services, acute hospitals and services for those with AIDS/HIV and drug problems. I am satisfied that there is adequate funding to maintain services at approved 1995 levels and to provide for the critical service developments which are contained in the Government's programme.