Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Wednesday 6 December 2023 Dublin: 8°C
Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

HSE’s Magee: Cutting back in spending will probably mean bed closures

The departing chief executive says he’d also be happy to stay around if the government wasn’t pursuing radical reforms.

THE DEPARTING CEO of the Health Service Executive has said attempts to rein in the agency’s overspending will probably force it to close further beds in its hospitals later this year.

Speaking after Taoiseach Enda Kenny confirmed his intention to leave his HSE post, Cathal Magee told RTÉ’s News at One that the agency was dealing with higher volumes of patients while also coping with reduced funding and reduced staff numbers.

“If you look at the construction of the plan that we’ve put in place, it was based on the reduction of 3 per cent in acute hospital activity,” Magee said.

…whereas in effect, in the first six months of the year – and largely as a result of the improved operating budget… we are 5 per cent over target in the level of activity.

Magee said the total projected overspend in the health service this year – though to be in the region of up to €500 million – was partly dependant on activities of the Department of Health as well as of his own agency.

Split responsibility

The Department was responsible for seeking additional of up to €145 million through the management of private beds in public facilities, he said, as well as negotiations on reducing the costs of acquiring drugs for patients.

He admitted that the HSE itself, however, was responsible for the overspend in hospitals.

“That’s driving cost and will probably have to be curtailed in the second half of the year,” he said, saying this would most likely come through the reduction in the recruitment of outside agency workers.

“If we focus on reducing agency… [that] will impact on the ability of staff to cover a word,” he added, stating:

That may result in a reduction of beds in hospitals, because they won’t have the staff to cover. [...]

The consequences of taking out significant numbers of agency staff will be that the capacity to cover the hospital will be limited.

Magee also made it clear that he would have been “quite happy” to remain as chief executive within the HSE, but that the government’s planned reforms of the executive – confirmed through draft legislation published by Dr James Reilly this morning – meant his role would be significantly different.

“I think it’s an appropriate time for me to flag that I’m willing to step down at this point, because there’s a new structure being put in place with a very different role,” Magee offered. ”The role of a director general is very different to the role of a chief executive.”

Magee clarified that his resignation had “nothing to do” with any tensions between himself and Reilly.

Read: Kenny insists HSE chief has not been forced out

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.