Budget 2020 sets out a budget of over €18.3 billion for health and social care services, the highest budget ever allocated. The Health budget increased by €1.2 billion on 2019, a substantial additional level of funding, particularly bearing in mind that Budget 2020 was framed in a no deal Brexit scenario. The amount allocated follows an extensive process of engagement between my Department and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, which considered both the funding requirements and the fiscal position. These types of engagements are a normal part of the Budgetary process and happen with Departments across Government. All Departments put forward spending proposals but are required to operate within the amounts proposed by Government and determined by the Dáil.
The issue of health funding is a major policy challenge for both the Irish and international Governments. Despite welcome increases annually, the need for effective financial management remains crucial as the health service deals with a larger and older population, with more acute health and social care requirements, increased demand for new and existing drugs and the rising costs of health technology. The costs associated with these service pressures will increasingly need to be managed not solely through annual increased Exchequer allocations but also through improved efficiencies, productivity and value from within the funding base.
Under legislation the Health Service Executive is required to set out in the National Service Plan, the type and volume of health and social care services to be provided having regard to the funding available. The Health Service Executive were directed that the 2020 Plan was to be developed and implemented within the statutory limit determined and that expenditure controls and savings measures were fully achievable next year. As part of this process to secure the most effective delivery of services possible within the resources available the Health Service Executive were required to ensure that the greatest value possible was achieved from the entirety of the resources that were allocated.