I propose to take Questions Nos. 402 and 403 together.
As Minister I am very aware of the health inequalities experienced by Travellers. Significant measures have been undertaken across the health service to address these inequalities, and there is ongoing and extensive engagement with Traveller organisations in this regard.
The Department of Health, via the HSE, provides in excess of €10m, to support a range of targeted initiatives, programmes and supports to improve the health status of Travellers. These include:
- primary healthcare projects, counselling services, family support programmes and men's health projects;
- Traveller Health units and related staff;
- mental health promotion and suicide prevention services provided in a culturally sensitive manner, to reduce the stigma associated with mental health;
- Mental Health Service Coordinator for Travellers posts responsible for driving, managing and supporting the implementation of agreed improvement programmes and projects for Travellers.
Furthermore, the HSE employs a number of Public Health Nurses and related staff towards addressing priority health needs of members of the Traveller community.
The Department will allocate €17 billion to the HSE for the delivery of health services in 2020. The details of these services will be set out in the HSE National Service Plan for 2020. The plan will include specific measures to improve Traveller health, including a Traveller health action plan.
The HSE is developing a detailed action plan, based on the findings of the All Ireland Traveller Health Study, 2010, to continue to address the specific health needs of Travellers, using a social determinants approach.
I understand the health action plan will be finalised by the HSE by the end of the year. My colleague the Minister for Health and I are engaged with and supportive of the health action plan. We look forward to considering the plan and are committed to providing leadership to support the implementation of the health action plan.
The Department will review the arrangements for engagement with Traveller organisations to support the action plan and is willing to participate in any new HSE structure to oversee the implementation of the plan.