Reilly says HSE to announce impact of €130m cutbacks


MINISTER FOR Health James Reilly has said Health Service Executive managers will shortly provide more information about the local impact of cutbacks announced last month.

Neither the HSE nor the Minister has provided any further detail, as promised, about the cutbacks announced over two weeks ago, prompting speculation that the Government had ordered a publicity blackout on the issue.

However, a spokesman for Dr Reilly said last night the HSE would be conveying information on cuts “at different times in different regions”. More information may be provided today.

The €130 million package of cuts announced last month provoked massive criticism, particularly in relation to measures affecting the disabled and older people. Dr Reilly later announced a partial U- turn in relation to cutbacks affecting provision of personal assistants.

On the day the cuts were announced, the HSE said each of its regional directors was working to develop implementation plans to give effect to the measures. It said further plans would be developed and discussed with staff and unions over the following week.

That evening, Dr Reilly said his department, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the HSE were working together to identify “other monies” that could be made available this year to deal with the overrun in the health service.

“The work is continuing and we expect to make an announcement on this matter next week,” he said.

However, the furore prompted a re-examination of the package and closer scrutiny by Cabinet. Since then, neither the Minister nor the HSE has provided any further detail. Dr Reilly’s spokesman said work was continuing on the issues involved in tackling the overrun.

A HSE spokeswoman confirmed that implementation plans had been submitted to the Department of Health. She said discussions about cutbacks were ongoing, and no timeline applied.

Meanwhile, the HSE has confirmed that emergency treatment of patients at Ennis Hospital in Co Clare is to end, with 999 cases being referred to Limerick.

Ennis is the second hospital in the HSE Mid-West region to see its emergency centre downgraded to a local injuries unit. Next Monday, the emergency department at Nenagh General Hospital will close as services are centralised in the Mid-West Regional Hospital in Limerick.

A spokesman said that while emergency services would transfer to Limerick or the nearest appropriate hospital, Ennis would continue to admit GP-referred patients with less critical conditions.

Similarly, many patients would be transferred back to Ennis for follow-on care after initial treatment in Limerick.

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