THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE of the HSE will face questions from an Oireachtas committee today amid widespread fear over possible health cuts in the upcoming Budget.
Cathal Magee will appear at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children, where questions are likely to focus on the ongoing crisis in emergency departments; the closure of a number of nursing units; and the cost of medicines.
The Minister for Health, James Reilly, will also be questioned by committee members. The meeting comes just a day after he warned of a possible €50 charge on medical cards, and an increase on the 50c prescription levy.
Reilly has also said that up to 40 community nursing units could face closure amid further downward pressure on health service funding in the Budget.
According to today’s Irish Daily Mail, as many as 840 beds could be closed in future cuts. The paper also names ten hospitals which it says are proposed for full closure in a leaked HSE document.
They include the community nursing unit at Abbeyleix, whose proposed closure brought more than 5,000 people on to the streets of the Co Laois town at the weekend. Campaigners say the measure would be a serious blow for the unit’s 28 long-term residents, the majority of whom are elderly.