Government will achieve €200m health savings - Howlin
The Government is determined that measures aimed at securing over €200 million in major savings and in additional revenue in the health services – which form a key part of the HSE’s budget for the year – will be achieved, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin has said.
Speaking today he also said that additional posts in the mental health and primacy care areas, which received special ring-fenced funding in the Budget last December, would be delivered.
On Saturday The Irish Times reported that HSE management had told the Department of Health that its financial deficit had reached €280 million for the first five months of the year. This represented an increase of €80 million in the overrun in just one month.
The Government has ordered a full review of expenditure across all headings in the health service.
Among areas discussed last week was using unspent funding which was originally allocated to develop mental health services in the budget last December to offset a financial deficit in that area.
HSE chief executive Cathal Magee told the Dail Public Accounts Committee last month that some assumptions on which the HSE’s service plan had been based were no longer valid. It had been projected that €124 million would be saved on drug costs this year. However, this had not yet come through.
Mr Magee said there had been an expectation that an additional €145 million would be generated in income from private health insurance companies. However, this had not yet been delivered.
He also said more staff had left the health service before pension changes were introduced last March than had been originally anticipated. This meant more money was paid out in lump sum payments than estimated previously.
Speaking on RTE’s “This Week” programme, Mr Howlin said: “We are taking measures to ensure that the decisions made to make the savings required across all the areas the Government determined last year will be fully implemented by the HSE”.
Mr Howlin said there had to be control of expenditure in the health service and he had had discussions on the issue with the Department of Health. He said his concerns were shared absolutely by the Minister for Health James Reilly.
“The decisions made by Government to achieve those savings will be achieved this year.We will drive to achieve these and we will achieve them.”
He said the targets of getting value for money in expenditure on drugs and receiving full payment for private beds in public hospitals would be achieved this year.