Hospital inpatient fees for under-16s to be abolished

Hospital inpatient fees for under-16s will be abolished as part of plans due to be approved by the Cabinet this week.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly will bring a memo to the Cabinet on Tuesday outlining plans to abolish the €80 inpatient and day-case charge for children, which is capped at €800 per year.

It is understood Mr Donnelly intends to scrap the fees in August. The abolition of the fees is another step towards plans for universal healthcare, allowing people access to healthcare without financial hardship.

Meanwhile, the Government will announce on Monday it is to double the period of time for which domiciliary care allowance and carer’s allowance are paid for children who are hospitalised.

The supports will be paid for 26 weeks, as opposed to the previous 13-week period, to the parents or guardians of children under 16 who are hospitalised for up to six months.

Domiciliary care allowance is a monthly payment for a child aged under 16 with a severe disability, who requires ongoing care and attention.

The payment is worth €309.50 per month and is not means tested.

“When a child is hospitalised, it can be an extremely difficult time for that child and their family. Domiciliary care allowance and carer’s allowance are availed of by families in certain circumstances, for example when the child is seriously ill. Heretofore, these supports had been paid over a period of 13 weeks when a child was in hospital,” Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys said.

Separately, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue will also announce plans for funding worth €32.7 million for 110 projects around the Irish coast.

Mr McConalogue said it was “the largest ever funding announcement of its kind for local authority marine infrastructure and I am confident that it will future-proof our piers and harbours right around our coast”.

The scheme will be funded under the European Union Brexit Adjustment Reserve, which is a special one-off emergency instrument. It provides support to counter any adverse economic, social and environmental consequences of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU.

Projects which will be funded include new slipways, pontoons, piers, boatyards, harbour renovations and lights.

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