MINISTER JAMES REILLY doesn’t think the Department of Health will achieve the €108 million of unspecified savings outlined in last year’s budget.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Drivetime this evening, Reilly said that the €108 million of ‘unspecified pay savings’ were purposely not allocated so as to provide flexibility. But the minister added that he doesn’t now feel that the savings are achievable.
As part of the 2014 plan, €619 million is required to be saved across the entire health service. The Haddington Road Agreement specified that a maximum of €212 million plus or minus 20 per cent of this could come from pay cuts.
Reilly said that the most amount of savings that could possibly come from pay cuts would be €290 million but that this would be difficult to achieve.
Reilly also said that he feels that the Irish Nurses Midwives Organisation is ‘leaving itself open to the charge of scaremongering’ after their statement yesterday that the latest HSE management proposals will “seriously compromise patient safety”.
The INMO said yesterday that it is completely compliant with its obligations under the Haddington Road Agreement but that the HSE is seeking to introduce further cash savings of €80 million. They say that these proposals will see a further reduction of staffing and new nursing vacancies filled by newly qualified nurses rather than those who have been give additional mentoring.
Reilly confirmed that the HSE was looking to achieve a further €78 million in savings but did not accept that patients will be put at risk, saying that it was a “serious charge” for the INMO to make.
The minister said that he felt there was scope for nurses to do some tasks currently undertaken by doctors and that healthcare assistants could in turn take some of the workload off nurses.
He pointed to the example of the 800 pharmacists administering flu jabs as an example of where greater consolidation can be achieved.
“We don’t want doctors looking after patients that nurses could be looking after, we don’t want nurses looking after patients healthcare assistants could be looking after,” he said.