The health of the country and the health of our economy are interdependent, the Minister for Finance has said.
Announcing a record Budget of €17.75 billion, Paschal Donohoe noted that Ireland has never faced a challenge like the COVID-19 pandemic before, but added that the country has "never delivered such a strong response".
"As a result of this response, we aim to recover more quickly and prevent a recession turning into a prolonged depression," he commented.
An extra €4 billion is to be provided to the health service in 2021, which will allow for a COVID testing capacity of 100,000 per week and ensure that PPE continues to be provided where needed.
However as well as COVID, the health service "must build up permanent capacity and resilience in the health service", noted the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath.
Budget 2021 will deliver an additional 1,146 acute beds next year, while the number of permanent adult critical care beds will increase to 321 by the end of 2021.
Some 1,250 community beds will also be made available, including over 600 new rehabilitation beds.
Five million additional homecare hours will be provided, while €5 million will be dedicated to the development of community-based dementia services and supports.
Some €100 million is being provided for new disability measures, while €38 million will be made available to implement the Government's national mental health strategy, Sharing the Vision.
The Government also announced 16,000 additional posts across the health sector.
Meanwhile, the cost of a pack of cigarettes has been increased by 50c - a move that was welcomed by the Irish Heart Foundation. It noted that this increase will bring the cost of the most popular price category of cigarettes from its current level of €13.70 to €14.20.
Discussions on this topic are now closed.