Government to submit health plan to troika
The Government has agreed to comply by the end of the month with a request from the EU-IMF troika for a detailed plan to tackle the spending overrun in the health service.
The Government is also facing an escalation in pressure from the troika to do more to achieve big savings on hospital consultants’ pay and drug spending and to follow the example of Greece in the delivery of health “efficiencies”.
The Cabinet yesterday approved a three-year health strategy, proposed by Minister for Health Dr James Reilly, which will be unveiled at a press conference tomorrow.
The Health Service Executive confirmed yesterday that its budget deficit was €399 million at the end of September.
The Department of Health was unable to say last night whether it would be seeking an emergency funding estimate from the Dáil.
The Coalition previously ruled out any such allocation.
A European Commission source confirmed that Dublin has told the troika it will meet its request.
The troika expects Dublin to specify by the end of the month how the 2012 overrun is to be addressed and how such measures carry into next year. The troika is on alert for any temporary steps to tackle the overrun.
In that event, it would raise issues in relation to next year’s budget.
In the Dáil yesterday, Dr Reilly said the HSE will impose cash limits on overtime and agency staff expenditure.
“There will be more rigorous management of absenteeism, travel and subsistence will be limited, and stock management will be intensified in order to better manage cash.”
Other measures include quicker collections from private insurers and savings from agreements with the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association and the Medical Defence Union.
In contrast to claims the Government is the bailout exemplar, it is argued in the troika that Ireland is behind Greece on health savings.
Economics commissioner Olli Rehn said Greek health expenditure had fallen by €1 billion. Attributing it to controls on “overprescriptions” and fraud, he expects savings of €800 million next year and 2014.
Of interest to the troika is a 2010 study by the OECD which said savings of more than 3 per cent of national economic output could be achieved by improving the efficiency of the Irish health service.