HSE €325m over budget for first nine months of 2015

PAC hears health service not over-staffed or over-managed relative to other countries

The health service was €325 million over budget for the first nine months of the year, the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee has been told.

Department of Health secretary general Jim Breslin declined to predict the size of the deficit by the end of the year but clarified that €135 million allocated by the Government to cut waiting lists and reduce overcrowding in hospitals will be added to the final deficit.

Mr Breslin said significant work was underway in the HSE to reduce the deficit.*

Asked by committee chairman John McGuinness how many HSE managers were “surplus to requirements”, he said there was scope to redeploy staff from handling transactions to more analytical work.

The Irish health service was not over-staffed or over-managed relative to services in other countries but “we’re not asking the right questions”.

The Department has taken over responsibility for the health vote since the start of this year.

Asked by Fine Gael TD Áine Collins how many accountants the Department employed for this work, he said there were four.

Ms Collins expressed doubt that just four accountants could oversee a €12 billion annual budget.

*This article was modified on October 9th 2015

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is Health Editor of The Irish Times