HSE is a ‘devalued brand’, says James Reilly

FF spokesman accuses Government of incompetence in dealing with health budgets

Minister for Health James Reilly accused Fianna Fáil of throwing money at the health service when in power instead of reforming it.

Minister for Health James Reilly accused Fianna Fáil of throwing money at the health service when in power instead of reforming it.

Wed, Jun 25, 2014, 11:16

The Health Service Executive recorded a deficit of €158 million by the end of May, Minister for Health James Reilly has said.

Dr Reilly told the Dáil the HSE is “an absolutely devalued brand’’ which the Government is committed to replacing.

He said 2014 was proving to be a particularly challenging year for the executive, but it was still managing to provide services despite growing demand and serious challenges. He pointed out that over €3.3 billion has been cut off the health budget since 2008, and staffing had been reduced by 14,000.

The Minister rounded on Fianna Fáil in the Dail this morning, reminding party health spokesman Billy Kelleher that his leader Micheál Martin had created the HSE when he was minister for health.

Mr Kelleher accused the Government of “grasping around, trying to pretend you have the money to run the health services for the year ahead’’. This was happening year-in-year-out, he added.

Dr Reilly said that a national service plan for the HSE had been launched, with patient safety the absolute clear priority. There was also an expansion of the transplantation service; more transplants had been carried out last year than ever before. Diabetic and colon cancer screening had been put in place.

“Many good things have been done, as well as maintaining the service,’’ he added.

According to the Minister, spending by the HSE was €114 million lower at the end of March compared to a year earlier. However, due to the extent and phasing of spending reductions, the deficit back then was €80 million, compared to €27 million in March 2013.

Dr Reilly said that had it all been about money, as Fianna Fáil seemed to think in government, “when you were rolling in it, you would have been able to fix the health service’’.

He said that instead of reforming the health service when in government, Fianna Fáil had continued to “throw money at it’’.