Reports to expose HSE's accountancy deficits

 

TWO MAJOR external reports on spending in the health service will be published within the next fortnight, Minister for Health James Reilly has confirmed.

A review on how the HSE manages its annual budget by Mark Ogden, a financial director with Britain’s National Health Service, has uncovered serious deficits in relation to accountancy practices, while the complementary PA Consulting report on HSE expenditure and financial controls reaffirms that finding and advises on how the issue can be addressed, the Minister told The Irish Times.

“We’re in the process of doing that now, so when the reports are released we will be able to show we have taken the action that is required to address the issues that have been there and have been there for an awful long time,” he said.

Speaking at the 27th annual Rural, Island and Dispensing Doctors of Ireland conference in Galway at the weekend, Dr Reilly said that despite all the negative headlines about the health service “there are good things happening too” such as inpatient waiting list and trolley wait reductions.

He told the conference that general practice would be more involved in clinical decision-making in the health service in the future, and promised that money in the hospital system used for chronic care and other tasks that GPs were now taking on would move to primary care.

“The days of leaving the resources behind in the hospital are going to change.”

Dr Reilly also reaffirmed his commitment to rolling out free GP care for those with long-term illnesses as part of a phased introduction of free GP care for everyone.

“There has been much criticism about the delays in rolling that out but that has been down to the technical issues of the law in moving from a system that looks at income threshold to an illness-base which has proved more complex than we thought.”

Dr Reilly’s speech was well received by his former GP colleagues, a number of whom spoke privately to him afterwards.

During the conference GPs raised concern about cuts to their fees, allowances and mileage, which they said were adversely affecting rural patients, many of whom live long distances from their local GP or hospital.

Meanwhile, the Minister confirmed during the weekend that he would bring proposals for the location of the new children’s hospital to the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste within the next 10 days.

When asked by The Irish Times if the hospital would still be completed by the original 2016 timeframe, he shrugged his shoulders and said “hope springs eternal”.