Budget hike for HSE’s community healthcare plan

Tony Canavan, Chief Officer of the HSE's Healthcare West.

This year’s allocation for the HSE’s Community Healthcare West is €483 million – an increase of almost €35m over the 2018 operational plan budget.

However, €9.25m of that budget increase relates to pay restoration under the Haddington Road and Lansdowne Road agreements.

In an assessment of the finances for primary care, social care, mental health and health and wellbeing services for Galway, Mayo and Roscommon, the HSE division admits that based on current expenditure trends, there will be a cost overrun of €4.5m for primary care alone for the year.

That is mainly due to cost pressures for medical and surgical supplies, incontinence wear, aids and appliances and costs associated with National Refugee Reception Centre in Ballaghderreen.

Last year’s primary care expenditure in 2018 exceeded the funded allocation by nearly €9m.

Community Healthcare West’s 2018 annual report and 2019 delivery plan were launched at a meeting of the Regional Health Forum.

The report shows waiting lists for all services continue at the same level or have grown.

The number of physiotherapy patients on the assessment waiting list for up to a year was 4,069 last year – up from 3,815 in 2017. Patients waiting for nearly a year for an assessment for occupational therapy was just under 2,000, while the number of psychology patients on the waiting list for nearly a year for treatment was almost 500.

Patients waiting for an appointment with the podiatry department reduced from over 1,300 to 196, while those waiting for an eye specialist increased slightly to 2,300. Over 2,000 audiology patients were waiting for up to 52 weeks, while over 1,000 were waiting a similar period after being referred for speech and language therapy.

The number of complaints logged by Galway patients was 162.

Among the projects implemented during the year were the Eolas Project, an information and support programme for families, close friends and service users with a diagnosis of psychosis or bipolar disorders.

A homeless service was established for Galway with plans to expand it this year. Staff also started a suicide prevention programme in the three counties called Eden.

Chief Officer for Community Healthcare West, Tony Canavan, said one of the key changes that occurred during 2018 was the delivery of mental health services after engagement with the service users who helped to plan and co-design the programmes.

Five primary care centres opened last year in Galway, Mayo and Roscommon area – just one in Galway, located in Tuam.

X-ray and ultrasound services will be rolled out at the Tuam health complex by September to enable easier access for those living in North and East Galway. There are plans to begin building a primary care centre in Moycullen this month with an expected completion date of June next year.

A project to house 30 individuals with complex mental health needs is due to begin in Galway City and County this month while there are plans to open a geriatric day hospital service in Galway, facilitating the reduction in Emergency Department attendances and unnecessary hospital admissions by the end of the year.