HSE facing €400m financial deficit this year
The financial deficit in the health service has begun to fall slightly but the HSE is still just under €400 million in red for this year, official figures to be released today are expected to show.
Informed sources said the HSE’s performance report will reveal that it recorded a deficit of €394 million to the end of September. This is down about €10 million on the deficit figure for August.
Meanwhile, the Government is expected to point to the findings of a new report by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) published this morning which highlights greater efficiencies in the health service despite the challenging financial situation.
Regarding the HSE figures, sources said last night they represented the first indication that the cost-containment measures and controversial cutbacks introduced by the Government in September were beginning to work.
However, it remains uncertain whether the measures will be sufficient on their own to deal fully with the financial overrun in the health service, which has been raised as an issue of concern by the EU-ECB-IMF troika. The Government has publicly ruled out the provision of a supplementary estimate to deal with the health service deficit. The provision of such additional funding had been common in previous years.
Minister for Health James Reilly told the Dáil last week the financial situation in the HSE continued “to be extremely challenging”.
“In the short term, to address the 2012 position, a range of measures are being undertaken in order to achieve a balanced budget. These include the use of capital to fund revenue on a once-off basis and the transfer of department funds to the HSE on a once-off basis. The HSE has been required to review all pay and non-pay savings targets with a view to further targeting all areas which do not compromise patient safety.
“The HSE has indicated that it will achieve €130 million in savings to address the deficit. Nearly 50 per cent will come from more focused cash and stock management initiatives, savings in medical equipment (non-capital), furniture, education, training, office expenses, travel and subsistence and advertising.
“Some €6 million of savings will come from the non-reimbursement of certain non-essential products. Some €60.5 million of savings will come from specific service-related measures. These measures are now the subject of intensive discussions with the HSE and local stakeholders.” The Department of Health last night declined to give details of the additional sums it is transferring from its own resources to the HSE. A spokeswoman said this included the transfer of unspent funding for the National Treatment Purchase Fund.
“In addition, there will be some savings in other expenditure areas. Certain areas of expenditure within the department can often be unpredictable, especially legal expenses.
“The department can also have savings on its vote due to timing issues where funds are not drawn down as was expected. “The department is anticipating an underspend on its capital vote also,” she said.