Health service deficit to be funded


In a significant policy reversal, the Government is to provide additional funding to deal with the financial deficit in the health service.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin told the Dáil yesterday it was likely there would be a supplementary budget for the health service. He said he was to have a bilateral meeting with Minister for Health James Reilly yesterday.

The Government has not spelled out the amount of additional funding it will have to provide to deal with the Health Service Executive deficit. However, some sources in the health service have forecast it could be as high as €200 million.

Previously the Government had ruled out a bailout for the HSE this year.

Mr Howlin said yesterday that he did not yet know the size of the supplementary estimate for the health service to go before the Dáil.

However, he said it would “be a tiny fraction” of the overall health budget of €13.5 billion.

In the Dáil in July, Taoiseach Enda Kenny rejected the suggestion that additional funding would have to be provided to deal with the HSE’s financial deficit.

The most recent performance report published by the HSE showed the financial deficit in the health service had begun to fall slightly but was still just under €400 million at the end of September.

The deficit will decline further as a result of cutbacks introduced earlier this year and by the use of some capital funding and money originally earmarked for the National Treatment Purchase Fund. Dr Reilly has also secured an advance of about €125 million on money due to the public health service from private health insurance companies.