Budget 2012 sees €35m for new mental health services and €15m for free GP care for Long Term Illness claimants.
Fine Gael Cork South Central Deputy, Jerry Buttimer, has said that the measures contained in Budget 2012 show that the Government is prioritising mental health, primary care and moving towards universal access to GP services.
“The Government has had to make very difficult decisions to reduce the budget deficit to 8.6% in 2012, with every attempt being made to protect the most vulnerable and to deliver a budget that is as fair as possible.
“A key commitment in the Programme for Government was to move, over time, to a situation where universal healthcare is a reality for all and medical care is provided based on need and no the money in one’s pocket. The healthcare measures contained in Budget 2012 today brought that reality one step closer.
“Provision has been made for €35 million to be allocated for new mental health services with a further €15 million being set aside to provide free GP services for those on the Long Term Illness Scheme. There are already plans to further extend free access to GP services in 2013 to include those who receive medicines under the High Tech Drugs Scheme with the ultimate aim of delivering free universal GP care.
“By enhancing our primary care services, through free GP care and the introduction of primary care centres, we will be able to alleviate the pressure on our acute services. By addressing the mental health needs of our people and ensuring that adequate supports are in place, we will hopefully get to grips with the suicide epidemic that our country has been experiencing in recent years.
“The enormous deficit that we have inherited from Fianna Fáil’s mismanagement of the economy means that we could not do everything we would have liked to in this Budget. Removing cost barriers to health care and ring-fencing funds for mental health are areas which, I am proud to see, the Government has chosen to prioritise.”