Health service faces more cuts, warns HSE chief


The head of the HSE has warned it will have to implement “further measures” to reduce expenditure by the end of the year.

In a message to staff this afternoon, HSE deputy chief executive and director general designate Tony O’Brien said that as of the end of August the health service had recorded a financial deficit of €259 million.

He warned this could reached €500 million by the end of the year “unless we take further stringent remedial action”.

“We simply cannot afford to allow this deficit to occur, not least because we have a statutory responsibility to remain within budget, and any deficit at the end of this year will simply add to our challenge next year. For this reason, the HSE is obliged to implement further measures to reduce expenditure in the last four months of 2012. “

Mr O’Brien has proposed a further clamping down on discretionary spending and cuts in sick leave.

“I have directed that all discretionary expenditure on items such as: equipment, furniture, education, advertising, printing, office supplies, travel, telephony, energy and taxis are to be kept to the absolute minimum. We also need to focus on eliminating waste and duplication of effort where possible. This will support us in delivering more services and lessen the need to curtail existing services.”

“Tackling avoidable absenteeism must be also a priority for everyone. Sick leave should be kept to the bare minimum and taken only when truly required and absolutely necessary," he said.

"The health service is currently spending a significant amount of money to replace staff who are out sick. In many cases this money would be more appropriately used for patient care. While some hospitals and community settings perform very well, others have continuing unacceptable high sick leave levels which puts additional pressure on staff and services,” Mr O'Brien added.