‘Austerity charter’ rejected by doctors and Opposition

Lack of detail in plan criticised

The Irish Cancer Society has expressed disappointment that the BreastCheck screening programme will not now be extended to women aged 65-69.

The Irish Cancer Society has expressed disappointment that the BreastCheck screening programme will not now be extended to women aged 65-69.

Thu, Dec 19, 2013, 01:00

The HSE service plan has been described as an “austerity charter” by the Irish Medical Organisation, while the Opposition queried how €108 million of savings will be achieved.

The organisation, which represents doctors, said the service plan would not be enough to provide the necessary levels of care, and its president, Dr Matthew Sadlier, said that savings of over €600 million when services are already struggling with budgets would cause “chaos” .

It said the HSE’s “U-turn” on the level of savings to be made under medical card probity tests from €113 million to €23 million “undermines the HSE’s credibility on financial issues”.

The organisation and the National Association of General Practitioners criticised the decision to go ahead with free GP care for children aged five and under.

The association claimed the €37 million earmarked for the scheme was nowhere near enough and was “intrinsically linked” to medical card cutbacks.

Groups representing the elderly gave a mixed reaction to the transfer of €23 million from the Fair Deal scheme into home-based support services for older people.

Age Action welcomed the HSE’s plans to develop community-based services and supports, but said it was “extremely concerned” that the switch in some funding from nursing home supports to community supports would be “insufficient to meet the needs of the sickest of older people”.

Alone chief executive Seán Moynihan said it welcomed the commitment to realign the care model to focus on developing homecare and community services, but said the €23 million allocated was “inadequate”.

Nursing Home Ireland described as “illogical and short- sighted” cuts that will result in 939 fewer persons receiving funding for nursing homecare under the scheme in 2014.

The Irish Cancer Society has expressed disappointment that the BreastCheck screening programme will not now be extended to women aged 65-69.


Bogus contribution
Opposition reaction was hugely critical, with Fianna Fáil saying the plan “bears all the same ‘on the hoof’ hallmarks” of Dr Reilly’s “bogus contribution to the national budget”.

Billy Kelleher, the party’s health spokesman, said Dr Reilly “lived down to all expectations” with the plan.

“The €113 million in probity savings on medical cards may be reduced to €23 million, but instead we are presented with €108 million in ‘unspecified savings’ in pay,” he said. The regional plans would reveal the “real damage that will be done by a damaged Minister”..

Sinn Féin health spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said the plan would cause huge problems in the health sector.

“The HSE’s so-called national service plan is a blueprint for huge further cuts in terms of health services in 2014,” the Cavan-Monaghan TD said.