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BUDGET 2001: CHARLIE'S BILL OF HEALTH.

Byline: LYNNE KELLEHER

CHARLIE McCreevy has announced he will throw a pounds 5.2 billion lifeline to the public health system.

This is twice the amount spent on health three years ago.

The money will go to programmes for the elderly, physical and mental disability and child welfare.

And the minister said he is determined to address hospital waiting lists.

He said: "Acute hospital services will receive extra funding for a number of priority measures including waiting lists, bed capacity and the cancer strategy.

"Addressing health problems, and indeed all aspects of public expenditure, is not simply a matter of additional resources.

"Consultants were appointed last May to carry out a comprehensive value for money audit of the health services. I look forward to their recommendations in the spring on the development of a management information system for the health services."

And he defended his record in health care, saying there had been an "extraordinary rate of increase of health spending". He said: "Current numbers in the health services stand at 80,000 compared to less than 59,000 in 1990.

"There are now some 540,000 admis-sions to in-patient care every year and day cases have doubled since 1992 to some 300,000 annually."

As part of the package, everyone over 70 years of age will receive free medical cards.

And there was also a massive injection of cash into the country's road network.

The Finance Minister unveiled a pounds 620 million package for roads as part of the National Development Plan.

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LIFELINE: Micheal Martin
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 7, 2000
Words:258
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