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Minister for Health warns of significant health service cuts

In parliamentary party meetings today, Dr James Reilly indicated he would frontload the cuts his department is facing in the coming year and says frontline services will be hit.

Image: jasleen_kaur via Creative Commons

MINISTER FOR HEALTH James Reilly has warned that up to 40 community nursing units around the country are in serious danger of closing due to staffing shortages and government spending cuts.

The minister met with the Fine Gael and Labour parliamentary parties earlier today and outlined his serious concerns for the health service.

He said that frontline services would be further affected by impending budget cuts given the level of resources he is being directed to reduce for Budget 2012.

Reilly told those who attended today’s meetings that he did not want to mislead anyone about the scale of difficulties facing the health service in Ireland, and that the hospital cuts may be frontloaded this year instead of introducing them in a more strategic way.

The minister also suggested bringing in more health charges, such as charging private patients for the use of public beds to encourage hospitals to take on more private patients.

He added that, where possible, the HSE would work to move long-term care residents who had formed a sense of community with one another to an alternative care facility as a group, in the case of their own nursing unit closing.

Reilly also indicated in today’s meetings that much of details for the health budget for the coming year have not been fully decided, and that the department is considering a “menu” of areas to make the cuts.

The minister is due to meet with campaigners protesting the closure of a community nursing unit in Abbeyleix, Co Laois.

Read more: Thousands turn out to protest Abbeyleix nursing unit closure >

Read: Global index shows drop in Irish medical costs >

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