THE HEALTH SERVICE Executive (HSE) has confirmed plans to cut €619 million across services next year, but plans to clawback €113 million in savings from medical card holders have been significantly watered down.
As was expected the HSE will seek savings of €23 million in medical card probity, down from the planned €113 million that was announced in the Budget last October.
Overall the planned reduction in spending of €666 million comes down to €619 million with the bulk of savings targeted in pay and pension savings.
Some €47 million has been allocated from Department of Social Protection – as a result of the reduction in unemployment figures – to the health service to help reduce its overall adjustment.
The HSE has around €13.12 billion of a budget for all of its services next year.
“In the context of a reduced budget, the Haddington Road Agreement provides an important mechanism by which this Service Plan can be delivered,” HSE director general Tony O’Brien said this morning.
The HSE said that on foot of programme for government commitments some €37 million has been provided for the provision of free GP care for children aged 5 and under, the legislation for which will be passed sometime next year.
In addition, some €20 million has been allocated for mental health services with the Minister Kathleen Lynch telling the Dáil this morning this will allow for 250 to 280 additional staff in various mental health schemes, with recruitment commencing in the first quarter of 2014.
Vital service developments
The HSE said that overall some €178 million in additional funding is being provided for “vital service developments” including:
- €3.2 million for the provision of bicochlear implants
- €35 million for additional medical cards
- €2.92 million for organ donation and transplant services
- €3.8 million for medical oncology and haemato-oncology
- €1.2 million for home care packages to support the discharge of special care babies from hospital
- €1.48 million for the implementation of recommendations out of inquiries into the death of Savita Halappavanar
- €4.5 million for diabetic retinopathy
- €2 million to continue the roll out of the BowelScreen programme.
Commenting on the publication of the plan, Health Minister James Reilly said it is focused on delivering health reform, “despite the challenges we face”.
“I am confident that we can continue to deliver on these priorities through 2014 and beyond, thanks to the hard work and dedication of the staff of the health services,” he added.
- With additional reporting by Michelle Hennessy.
First published 10:15.