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Criticism for HSE's 2013 service plan as health unions to be briefed

Unions representing health service workers will be briefed on the HSE’s national service plan announced yesterday as political reaction was less than positive towards the plan.

Health Minister James Reilly (File photo)
Health Minister James Reilly (File photo)
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

UNIONS REPRESENTING HEALTH service workers will be briefed on the HSE’s 2013 national service plan later this morning as the plan was criticised by opposition parties and one union yesterday.

In publishing the national service plan for this year, the HSE outlined how it would spend its €13.4 billion budget and make savings of over €721 million in the next 12 months.

Changes to eligibility criteria mean that 40,000 people will lose their medical cards while extra savings of around €60 million from the primary care sector will be sought in the year ahead.

The plan says it will be necessary to achieve a gross reduction of four per cent of the workforce, or 4,000 people in the year ahead, a move was criticised by the general secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation Liam Doran.

The INMO said that the HSE needs to realise that the health service cannot continue to lose “excessive amounts of staff” in an unplanned way.

“The key measure which should apply to this plan is does it ensure that all patients will receive the optimum treatment when they need it,” Doran said.

‘Hobbled’

“This will require the HSE to confirm that nurses and midwives, in the frontline, will be given the authority, with the responsibility, to ensure safe staffing levels are maintained to ensure safe practice at all times.”

Politically, the reaction was also less than positive with the Fianna Fáil health spokesperson Billy Kelleher saying that the problems created by the service plan for 2012 had “hobbled” plans for this year.

“The €270m overrun in our hospitals in 2012 being carried over is going to put enormous pressure on hospital managers to further reduce costs without reducing services,” Kelleher said.

Kelleher said that the plan published today has “significantly less substantial” than the plan published last year and added that the “devil will be in the delivery” of the plan.

Sinn Féin’s Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said that the service plan was “a plan for slashing services” and said that it would “deepen the staffing crisis in our public health services”.

Read: National plan to save €721 million published by HSE

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Hugh O'Connell

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