THE HSE HAS published its National Service Plan for 2013 which outlines the type and volume of services to be delivered with its €13.4 billion budget as well as the cuts of over €721 million to be made over the next year.
Hospitals are facing an incoming projected deficit of €271 million along with further cost pressures that may arise in 2013, according to the plan.
The plan says it will be necessary to achieve a gross reduction of 4 per cent of the workforce, or 4,000 people which equates to the loss of 6.4 million working hours annually.
Staff reductions will be pursued throughout 2013 through “natural turnover” (retirements and resignations) and such other targeted measures or initiatives as may be determined by government
The provision for Community Schemes in 2013 will be reduced by €323 million to €2,562 million and will allow for an additional 100,000 medical cards and up to 130,000 GP visit cards.
However 40,000 people will lose their medical cards as a result of changes to income calculations including those over 70.
The HSE Board has also decided to introduce additional cuts in primary care costs of €60 million which is greater than the savings announced on Budget day.
The plan said that the HSE recognises that in the absense of the allocation of additional funding for nursing homes, “there will be challenges in responding to the need for residential care”. In response to this it expected that a waiting list will be set up and new places will be offered as funding becomes available.
The plan says the HSE will deliver the maximum level of safe services possible for the reduced funding and employment levels which involves “prioritising some services over others to meet the most urgent needs”.
It also said the HSE will improve access to outpatient and diagnostic services with no person waiting longer than 52 weeks for an out patient procedure. 95 per cent of all attendees at Emergency Departments will be discharged or admitted within six houre of registration, it said.
Commenting on the plan today Minister for Health James Reilly said: “We have the capacity to maintain safe services and to improve services even though funding levels have to fall.”
“It is government policy that the greatest protection should be given to the most vulnerable and I’m pleased to confirm that the budget levels for Home Care Packages/Home Help has been set at the 2012 level, without cuts,” he said. “It underscores our determination to empower elderly people to stay in their homes as is their wish.”
Reilly said he has been assured that the appointment of a wide range of healthcare professionals in mental health and primary care will be fast tracked.
“The development will allow for a strengthening of mental health care for citizens and a significant roll out of Primary Care Teams across the country,” he said.