A reduction of 50 cent in the prescription charge is among the health measures announced by the Minister for Finance in the budget.

He also announced an increase in the medical card income threshold for people over 70 by €50 for a single person and €150 for a couple per week.

It is estimated that measure would benefit up to 56,000 people.

Paschal Donohoe also announced that the Government intended to expand the free GP care to children under eight and free dental care for children under six.

The Minister said a further million home care hours would be provided in 2020.

Extra funding to community healthcare services would see the recruitment of up to 1,000 therapists, nurses and other healthcare professionals.

Mr Donohoe said that represents an increase of €1bn which would be used to fund a supplementary estimate of €335 million.

An additional €25 million will be invested in the National Treatment Purchase Fund in order to reduce waiting lists.

The Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA) said the 'Brexit budget' announced today must not further delay the Health Service Executive's approval of new medicines, causing standards of care for patients to fall relative to European countries.

IPHA called for an 'adequate allocation for new medicines' as the Government announced an extra €1 billion in health spending.

The group said the move would arrest the continued slide in State funding for new medicines in recent years, with the shortfall causing patients in Ireland to wait much longer than their peers in western Europe for access to the latest treatments.

The Irish Dental Association has expressed serious concerns over the proposal to introduce free dental care for under 6s.

It also said that the timelines were unrealistic.

Chief Executive of the Irish Dental Association Fintan Hourihan said Minister for Health Simon Harris should look at alternative models to what was being proposed and that an interim plan was needed to rebuild the public school dental service.

The supplementary health budget to deal with this year's Health Service Executive overspend is €335m, Minister for Finance tells the Dail.