HSE 2021 National Service Plan published

Press Release: 24th February, 2021

Unprecedented €3.5 bn increase in health service funding

The National Service Plan for the HSE, detailing how it will spend the €20.623 bn allocated to it for 2021, has been published today. The financial allocation represents an increase of €3.5 bn or 21% on the 2020 National Service Plan.

Within the extra €3.5bn for operating costs, some €1.68bn is for COVID-19 spending.

The remaining €1.8bn extra represents an underlying increase of 10.6% in health spending compared to last year, well ahead of the average annual increase of 7.3% received across the years 2016-2020.

€1.1bn of this additional investment is to deliver permanent and enduring improvements in healthcare arising from the Sláintecare reform programme. The remaining €0.7bn of this underlying (ie non-COVID) increase is to cover the increased costs of providing existing levels of service which have increased due to demographic changes and various cost increases.

Mr Paul Reid, CEO, HSE said: “This significant investment represents the trust that the Government and the public have placed in us after a year in which our staff have gone above and beyond to do all they can to keep people safe and healthy. The last 12 months have brought very rapid changes in how we provide healthcare, and we intend to use the best of the changes coupled with the new investment to sustainably transform how we deliver healthcare in Ireland.”

According to the Chairman of the HSE Mr Ciarán Devane: “COVID-19 continues to pose a risk to ‘normal’ healthcare activities.  We have seen the most extraordinary of responses from both the public and from staff across the HSE during the pandemic. In 2021 we are investing in initiatives that we consider most likely to deliver demonstrable, sustainable improvements to health service performance and delivery. In this regard the NSP is characterised by a marked move towards the delivery of care in the community or at home whenever possible.”

The National Service Plan is the annual document setting out the type and volume of health and personal social services to be provided by the HSE in 2021, in line with priorities set out by the Minister for Health, and the longer-term transformation agenda for health and social care services in Ireland. In particular, this year, it sets out how a number of key Sláintecare reforms will be progressed.

The plan provides for additional spending to improve many services including those in the areas of cancer, maternity and mental health.  It provides for an addition of 16,000 staff above December 2019 employment levels including over 1,100 medical and dental staff, more than 3,500 nurses and midwives and 4,000 health and social care professionals.

It details programmes of work from improving patient safety and keeping the population healthy and well, to supporting people living at home with lifelong conditions.

The allocation for additional COVID-19 related spending includes Personal Protective Equipment, the vaccination programme, testing and tracing and improving access to care.

The plan addresses how to deliver services and functions in 2021 in the context of a global pandemic, and specifically what services are planned for 2021 to control the spread of COVID-19.

According to Mr Reid: “The need to adapt our services urgently to the requirements imposed by the pandemic has led to some rapid changes, such as a move to increasing the volume and variety of services provided in the community.  In 2021 we hope to use the additional funding to reinforce and support this move, which is in line with the Sláintecare reform agenda.”

The Plan outlines reform measures and their expected impacts in 2021 which include:

  • enhancing primary preventive services and partnerships
  • reforming our services to better support our growing and ageing population
  • delivering care as close to the patient as possible through enhancing primary and community care
  • increasing capacity & reforming scheduled / planned care
  • mainstreaming appropriate Sláintecare Integration Fund projects
  • improving access to mental health services
  • supporting the reform of disability services

The plan also contains sections on improving the patient experience of the health service; improving population health and wellbeing. 



Last updated on: 24 / 02 / 2021