Kenny rejects FF health budget claim
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has strongly denied a claim by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin that the Government’s health estimate for this year was dishonest.
Amid sharp exchanges in the Dáil this morning, Mr Kenny told Mr Martin that it was 'ill-becoming" of him to accuse Minister for Health James Reilly of being dishonest.
“That is not in keeping with your normal behaviour, Deputy Martin,’’ he added.
Mr Kenny said the HSE was facing a serious challenge this year, and it had submitted a mid-year cost-containment proposal which was being considered.
“It is a fact of life that every Minister has to work very hard to see that the ceilings and the proposals for their particular department’s budget for 2012 are adhered to and the same will apply in the case of the Department of Health and the Minister,’’ he added.
Mr Martin said it was clearly emerging that the estimate “was not an honest estimate’’. He claimed that “a very false and dishonest’’ estimate was provided in a plan overseen by Dr Reilly.
“In essence, Taoiseach, I would put this to you: that the failure to implement measures announced in December budget relating to health is one thing,’’ he added. “But it seems clear now that these figures were never achievable and you stand accused, and the Minister in particular, that, in essence, the books were cooked here.’’
Mr Martin said the HSE was facing into a potential deficit of €500 million if corrective action was not taken. This could mean the closure of wards, beds and, possibly, hospitals.
“There are hospital managers, Taoiseach, around the country who are at the end of their tether and genuinely worried about the budgetary situation, given the cuts in their allocation already and their inability to make ends meet,’’ he added.