The outgoing Minister for Health has said he is passionately in favour of Sláintecare.

Simon Harris said it is easy to be in favour of the nice parts of it, but there are difficult decisions that must be made in relation to the plan.

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke, he said if we are serious about universal healthcare, then reform has to be part of any discussion about pay.

Mr Harris said he wants to spend more money on healthcare and hire more people but does not believe that "chucking more money at healthcare" is the solution because if it was, the problem would have been resolved years ago.

He said the Government has done a new deal with GPs to reserve recessionary cuts and allow them to do more in the community.

However, he added, we must make it attractive for GPs to stay in the country after they qualify.

Mr Harris said Fine Gael intended to bring in a statutory homecare scheme, where a single assessment tool would be used.

He said that he wanted to "passionately" wanted to remain as health minister, because it was a job worth doing.

Fianna Fáil's health spokesperson Stephen Donnelly said the party is launching a comprehensive healthcare plan that will manage money properly and deliver care for those in need.

He said the healthcare system is in crisis and people are being forced to wait years in order to be seen.

Part of Fianna Fáil's plan, he said, is to deliver over 2,000 extra hospital beds over the course of the next Dáil term.

He said they would also invest €200m in mental health care services.

On the same programme, Sinn Féin’s health spokesperson Louise O’ Reilly said real resources need to be put into primary care, pointing out that two thirds of GP services are now closed to new patients.

She said the crisis in general practice has deepened during Fine Gael's time in office and the only reason we are having an election is because the government did not believe Mr Harris would survive a motion of no confidence.

She added that there has not been a proper focus around mental health, and that children in Swords in Dublin for example are waiting around 30 months to be seen.

The full cost of this, she said, would never be known.

Social Democrats so-leader Róisín Shortall said Sláintecare plan is "the only plan in town."

However, she said, the Irish healthcare services have become a deeply unattractive place to work.

She pointed out that Ireland trains plenty of highly skilled healthcare staff but that they do not want to work here.

Ms Shortall said the waiting lists for those seeking mental health services are "shocking" and that principle of early intervention is being ignored as children in North Dublin are waiting three years for an appointment.

When asked about whether they had private health insurance or not, Mr Harris, Mr Donnelly and Ms Shortall all said they insurance, while Ms O’Reilly said she did not.