JUNIOR HEALTH MINISTER Kathleen Lynch has “no comment to make” on reports that she threatened to resign over cuts to budget for mental health services, a spokesperson said this morning.
It was reported in yesterday’s Sunday Business Post that Lynch, the Minister of State with responsibility for mental health, was furious over proposed cuts to the mental health budget as part of the planned €666 million adjustment in health expenditure next year.
The Labour TD was said to have told Health Minister James Reilly, the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste at a recent meeting that she “would not stand” for the proposed cuts, according to Pat Leahy’s story.
But a spokesperson for Lynch said today that there was a discussions about the HSE Service Plan and “that’s all that happened at the meeting, it’s a work in progress”.
“There’s no comment to make really,” the spokesperson added. Lynch did not respond to a request for comment at the time of publication.
Prior to the Budget, Lynch told TheJournal.ie in September that she “most definitely” did not want any cuts saying: “It’s the ballroom of romance at the moment, we’ve lined up on either side and it will be about protecting our own budgets.”
Lynch’s reported threat comes in the wake of her fellow junior minister and Labour TD Róisín Shortall resigning last year over disagreements with Reilly about primary care centres.
Shortall has since been heavily critical of the government’s health reforms and the agenda being pursued by Reilly. She has warned that the health service faces collapse next year.
This latest development comes at the start of a crucial week for the health service with the HSE Service Plan for 2014 due to be considered by Cabinet tomorrow and TDs and Senators on the Health Committee later this week.
As well as this, it’s reported this morning in the Irish Times that Reilly will seek an additional in €199 million of a supplementary budget for this year due to spending overruns.
Reilly on health cuts: ‘This does entail more heavy lifting for people’