THE HEALTH SERVICE Executive has said that in order for it to avoid a budget deficit in excess of half a billion euro, it must implement €130 million in cost-saving measures over the remainder of the year.
Announcing the cuts today, the HSE said it has been set budget targets by both the Government and the Troika and “in order to deal with the existing deficit and to remain within budget”, it is obliged to introduce a range of cost reductions.
The measures have been described as non-operational and include proposals to make savings of €28.5 million in non-capital medical equipment, furniture, education, training, office expenses, travel and subsistence and advertising.
The HSE will also seek €35 million through 50 per cent reductions in the use of agency staff and 10 per cent less overtime across the system.
A 5.5 per cent reduction in the 11 million Home Help hours which cost about €195 million annually should give back €10.8 million to the HSE, while €10 million will be axed from the €1.4 billion Personal Assistants budget. Home Care Packages will also be affected but the HSE claims the impact of these reductions will be minimised through greater efficiencies and direct patient care.
A further €6 million saving is expected through reimbursements for certain products including glucosamine, orlistat and omega-3-triglycerides.
Explaining the cuts, the HSE said it has a statutory obligation to stay within its allocated budget of €13.2 billion for 2012. The deficit as of the end of this month is already €259 million.
“Detailed cost containment plans have been in place across the health service since the beginning of the year. However, there has been an increasing demand for services which has contributed in a significant way to the continuing deficit. Should robust cost reduction action not be taken at this juncture, the HSE faces a potential year-end deficit of €500 million,” it said in a detailed statement.
The HSE has said that “every effort” has been taken to target areas that do not impact on direct patient services. However, it said it was “inevitable that some impact on service delivery will be experienced” as a result.