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Monday 17 February, 2020
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Minister and Taoiseach 'did not mislead Dáil on HSE difficulties'

The Health Minister was responding to claims from Deputy Micheál Martin that he ignored warnings from HSE chief executive Cathal Magee about the health budget.

Image: Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland

THE MINISTER FOR Health, Dr James Reilly, did not ‘mislead’ the Dáil on difficulties facing the HSE, his spokesman said today.

He added that at no stage did the Minister or Taoiseach Enda Kenny mislead the Dáil on the issue.

The comment comes after Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin claimed that Minister Reilly needs to be questioned immediately “about why he withheld vital information for months on end about the escalating health budget crisis”.

The Irish Times said this week that HSE chief executive Cathal Magee had repeatedly written to Minister Reilly about policy directions on the health deficit, and that his requests were not met.

Martin said yesterday:

Dr Reilly has a duty to the public and to the Oireachtas to explain why he ignored warnings from Cathal Magee since March, and why he fobbed off the Dáil on several occasions when concerns were raised about the health budget.  He also needs to outline now how he intends to ensure that frontline services and patients do not suffer as result of his financial mismanagement.

Investigation

Deputy Martin added that the “series of failures that have come to light this week regarding the mismanagement of the health budget and the preparation of flawed health estimates must be investigated urgently”.

The health budget is out of control and Minister Reilly cannot get away with continuing to put this extremely serious matter on the long finger

Minister Reilly’s spokesperson said that regarding media reports on the correspondence between the Chief Executive of the HSE and the Secretary General of the Department:

The Department worried too and the Department worked to produce progress. The Department of Health have had breakthroughs on both these issues.

Progress

He said this progress included a new deal with insurance companies that will yield €125 million, and a deal with pharmaceutical manufacturer representative organisation IPHA, which has produced €10 million immediately.

It also includes imminent generic drug substitution legislation which it is hoped will help save over €70 million this year.

The spokesperson said that “considerable worry” remains on the issue of service cost overruns.

The maintenance of financial control over the service is the legal responsibility of the Chief Executive of the HSE as the Accounting Officer.

The spokesperson said that a number of separate initiatives have been mounted by the Department of Health to assist the HSE in this regard, including the establishment of key new personnel in the HSE and the Department of Health “who will strongly enhance the financial control capability of the organisation”.

Read: New HSE chief appointed by Minister for Health>

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