An extra half a billion euro has been allocated to the Department of Health for next year.

The figure is made up of day-to-day spending of €457m, plus €40m in extra capital spending.

It will bring total spending in 2017 to €14.6 billion and follows on from the extra €500m funding announced for the health service earlier this year.

Some of the measures announced include increased medical card coverage for all children in receipt of the Domiciliary Care Allowance.

The €25 cap on prescription charges for the over 70s will be dropped to €20 from March.

There will also be an extra €15m funding for the National Treatment Purchase Fund to help cut hospital waiting lists.

Fianna Fáil's Health Spokesperson Billy Kelleher said the extra funding was an important step in addressing the growing waiting lists and he called on Minister Simon Harris to prioritise the fund.

Justin Moran of Age Action also backed the increased funding but said the organisation would wait for further details.

He said: "Our community care system is in crisis. The increase in the health budget must prioritise investment in services that enable older people to stay home."

However, the Irish Hospital Consultants Association has criticised a lack of investment in extra beds.

IHCA President Tom Ryan said: "It is disappointing that the 2017 Budget has not allocated significantly increased capital funding to address the critical acute hospital and mental health capacity deficits which are preventing consultants and frontline staff from treating patients without delays.

"The increased NTPF funding to address the unacceptable and growing waiting lists is at best a stop-gap measure."

Rural Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice said it is very disappointing that there has been nothing done on the Fair Deal scheme in the Budget as that is something that was brought up by all independents during the negotiations on the formation of Government.

The Nursing Homes Support Scheme, or Fair Deal Scheme, provides financial support for people who need long-term nursing home care.

Independent TD Michael Harty welcomed the announcement of an additional 1,000 nurses but he said he does not know where they are going to come from.

He said we need to improve conditions for our doctors and nurses in a bid to welcome them home from abroad.