The Health Service Executive is to spend a record €16bn delivering services across the country next year.

It represents an extra €848m on this year's allocated budget, a rise of 5.6%.

The increase follows an overspend in health of around €700m throughout 2018.

The plan, which was published this evening, promises extra bed capacity, with 202 new beds to be opened during 2019 in 14 locations around the country.

However, the HSE says there could still be delays in waiting times for admission to a hospital bed as "demand still outweighs capacity."

As result, it says there maybe some drop-off in elective inpatient activity for non-urgent patients, but the HSE says it will seek to minimise those delays.

It says it will work closely with the National Treatment Purchase Fund to mitigate the impact on patients.

The scale of recruitment is also being reduced.

The HSE says it will have funding to hire an additional 2,000 employees next year, compared with 4,000 in 2018.

The wide-ranging plan includes funding for an extra 700,000 home support hours, bringing the total to over 18 million hours for more than 53,000 people.

Among the other increased services for older people, almost 11,000 will be supported for transitional care to leave hospital.

Funding for mental health services is being increased by €55m, while an additional €70.3m is being allocated to allow for Primary Care Scheme Changes.

The service also aims to issue over 1.5 million medical cards along with over 528,000 GP visit cards.

And there will be an allocation of €567m to fund infrastructure development in 2019.