Health budget may be revisited, Lynch says

Health facing cuts of up to €1 billion

If people qualified for medical cards the cards could not be removed from them, says Minister of State at the Department of Health Kathleen Lynch. Photograph: Alan Betson

If people qualified for medical cards the cards could not be removed from them, says Minister of State at the Department of Health Kathleen Lynch. Photograph: Alan Betson

Sat, Nov 2, 2013, 01:00


Minister of State at the Department of Health Kathleen Lynch has signalled the health service could have to go back to Government and renegotiate its budget for next year.

In an interview on Newstalk yesterday she said that if people qualified for medical cards the cards could not be removed from them.

“It may be the case we do have to go back to the department and say, ‘This is what we can do and we cannot do any more’.”

She said health was a central point for every government.

If it comes to the point where no more can be taken out “we will have to go back and renegotiate. But that does not mean that the rest of the Government’s budget and projections are flawed”, she said.

The health service has been asked to find savings of €666 million next year. However, senior figures have warned that up to €1 billion may have to be found if service developments promised but not funded, such as the upgrading of maternity services and the elimination of excessive working hours for doctors, are to be implemented.

The department has been asked by Government to make savings of €113 million in a review of medical cards.

Minister for Health James Reilly has said a full assessment and validation of proposed budget 2014 savings in the health service would be carried out. He said the validation process would include the departments of Health, the Taoiseach and Public Expenditure and Reform.

The Minister has given HSE officials an extra 10 days to draw up its service plan for 2014.