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The health and wellbeing of Ireland's population is central to our society and the country. In 2018, the government spent approximately €16 billion on health. As life expectancy and population numbers in Ireland continue to rise, the provision of high-quality, affordable health services becomes more crucial.

The government works closely with the Health Service Executive (HSE) to improve the health and wellbeing of people in Ireland by delivering high quality health services and getting the best value from health system resources.

The government's Sláintecare strategy will transform Ireland's health services. It promotes a healthcare system where the majority of services are delivered in the community and access is based on need, not ability to pay.

The Healthy Ireland framework aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people in Ireland. Its main focus is on prevention and keeping people healthier for longer.

Acute Care

Acute care services include:

  • Inpatient scheduled care
  • Unscheduled or emergency care
  • Maternity care
  • Cancer care
  • Organ donation and transplantation
  • Outpatient and diagnostic services

The government is working to improve patient access to hospital services and to reduce waiting times for scheduled and unscheduled care.

The National Cancer Strategy 2017 – 2026 focuses on prevention, early diagnosis, treatment and quality of life.

The strategy sets out four goals:

  • Reducing cancer rates and focusing on inequalities
  • Providing the best cancer care possible
  • Maximising patient involvement and quality of life
  • Improving organisations and systems

An annual report is published which sets out the progress achieved on implementing the National Cancer Strategy.

The Public Health Sunbeds Act 2014 addresses the need to protect the public from the risk of skin damage and the increased risk of developing skin cancer. It also aims to promote a greater public awareness of the dangers of developing skin cancer, premature ageing and eye damage from exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

Ireland's National Maternity Strategy ensures that women are at the centre of decisions about maternity care.

The government is committed to making organ donation the norm in Ireland when people pass away in circumstances where donation is possible.

There are three specialist organ transplantation centres in Ireland.

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Health and Brexit

The UK is due to leave the European Union. How and when they may leave is not yet certain.

The decision of the UK to leave the EU will result in some changes, both here in Ireland and also for our EU partners, which we are preparing for. While there is still a lot of uncertainty, it’s important for you to be aware of what Brexit may mean for your daily life.

There are different ways that the UK decision to leave the EU may impact you.

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Drugs and Alcohol Policy

The government's policy on drug and alcohol use is set out in the national drugs strategy, Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery 2017 – 2025.

The strategy aims to promote healthier lifestyles within society and encourage people to make healthier choices around drug and alcohol use.

Local and regional drug and alcohol task forces implement the national drugs strategy in the context of the needs of their region or local area.

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Mental Health

It is estimated that one in four people in Ireland will experience some mental health problems in their lifetime.

The government is focused on achieving and maintaining optimum mental health in Ireland so that people can live happy lives.

The government wants to develop a modern, recovery orientated mental health service. The most recent national policy framework for mental health, A Vision for Change, is currently being updated. The refreshed policy will be published shortly.

Ireland's national strategy to reduce suicide is called Connecting for Life. The National Office for Suicide Prevention co-ordinates the strategy.

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Nursing and Midwifery

The Strategy for the Office of the Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) provides the necessary direction for the Office in supporting the nursing and midwifery professions and maximising their contribution to health policy.

The core values underpinning and guiding the practice of nursing and midwifery in Ireland are:

  • Compassion
  • Care
  • Commitment

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Patient Safety

Patient safety is the cornerstone of quality healthcare. Our National Patient Safety Office focuses on leading key patient safety policy initiatives.

We aim to:

  • ensure safe health services are informed by good data and supported by legislation
  • use patient safety surveillance information to inform and direct patient safety improvements for hospital and community care
  • develop a model for a new national patient advocacy service
  • extend the national clinical effectiveness framework to promote evidence based healthcare

Further information is available at the following links:

Primary Care

Primary care should be the first point of contact that people have with the health service. Primary care is all of the health or social care services that you can find in your community, outside of hospital. It includes general practitioners (GPs), public health nurses and a range of services.

Under the Sláintecare strategy, the government's core objective for primary care is to shift most people’s care to the community. This will help reduce waiting lists and waiting times.

A primary care team is made up of GPs, public health nurses and therapists. Each one supports around 7,000 – 10,000 people. These services are delivered in primary care centres.

The development of primary care centres across the country is an important part of the Sláintecare strategy.

There are controls and restrictions that apply to the use of cannabis for medical reasons in Ireland.

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Social Care

Social care services include:

  • Health and personal services for people with a disability
  • Residential and community-based care for older people
  • Palliative care

Disability policies focus on enabling people to achieve their full potential, living as independently as reasonably possible.

The government is continuing to move people with disabilities out of congregated settings. In congregated settings, 10 or more people with a disability live together in a single living unit or are placed in campus-based accommodation.

The government's Strategy for Community Inclusion forms the basis for people with disabilities to move from congregated settings to their own homes in the community.

Personalised budgets can give people with disabilities more choice and control over the services and supports they get. The government is currently developing best practices for personalised budgets.

You can apply for financial support to help pay for the cost of care in a nursing home through the Fair Deal scheme.

In December 2017, the government approved the development of a national adult safeguarding policy for the health sector. The policy will apply to the public, private and voluntary sectors.

The development of this policy is under way. It is expected that the national adult safeguarding policy, when approved, will form the basis for legislation.

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Publications (892)

Analysis of confirmed cases of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland

2 April 2020; Department of Health; Collection;

Ireland's response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

2 April 2020; Department of Health; Publication;