Reilly claims 'extension' to Croke Park deal could save €308m in pay
The Government is seeking to generate €308 million in pay-related savings in the health service next year, Minister for Health James Reilly has said.
He said it was intended that these savings would be produced by intensifying the current Croke Park agreement, by negotiating further workplace changes and reforms under the so-called “extension” to the deal early in 2013 and by further reductions in staffing levels.
Dr Reilly told Fianna Fáil’s health spokesman, Billy Kelleher, in the Dáil last week that required measures under the Croke Park deal included new rosters in hospitals, changes in skill mix in nursing homes, the implementation of the recent agreement reached with hospital consultants, a significant reduction in overtime and agency spending, and a reduction in management grades.
He said pay savings were also targeted from the reconfiguration of service models in hospitals, disability, mental health and children and family services.
“The Government has initiated discussions with the trade unions on a new agenda for improvements in the productivity of public servants and reductions in the cost of delivery of public services. Detailed engagement is expected to commence early in 2013, under the leadership of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.”
The Government has not yet spelled out the new measures which it intends to propose under the extension to the Croke Park deal. However, these are likely to include additional working hours, incremental pay increases (particularly for high earners) and possibly premium payments.
Talks on the extension to the Croke Park agreement are likely to get under way in earnest in January.
The Irish Times reported earlier this month that more than 3,000 whole-time equivalent posts in the health service are expected to go next year under Government plans to further reduce numbers of healthcare staff on the payroll.
Dr Reilly told the Dáil last week that he also wanted to see savings of €323 million in the primary care services next year. The largest amount – €120 million – is to come about as a result of the new agreements on drug prices with the pharmaceutical industry.
The Government is also seeking to generate €70 million in savings by further reducing fees for healthcare professionals such as GPs and pharmacists under financial emergency legislation.
The Department of Health has sought submissions on this issue by early in January.
The recently announced increase in prescription charges is expected to generate €51 million while Dr Reilly said that a new prescribing initiative was aimed at realising €20 million in savings.