Transfer of prisoner healthcare to HSE suggested by Department of Justice

Proposal could generate savings of €4-€5m annually from the third year, says Department

Moving the responsibility for prisoner healthcare “is also likely to lead to a better service to prisoners” according to the submission.  Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Moving the responsibility for prisoner healthcare “is also likely to lead to a better service to prisoners” according to the submission. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

The transfer of responsibility for prisoner healthcare to the Department of Health and the HSE could generate savings of €4-€5 million annually after an initial investment, according to a Department of Justice pre-budget expenditure review.

The department noted that the current cost, which is the responsibility of the Irish Prison Service, was in the region of €18 million annually and estimated that its proposal could generate savings of €4 million to €5 million annually from the third year onwards. However, it stressed that “an initial upfront investment” would be required.

“There is potential for real savings if the service is transferred to the HSE, where considerable synergies might be exploited,” it added.

“Such a move is also likely to lead to a better service to prisoners in terms of continuity of health provision before, during and after a period of imprisonment.”

The submission observed that the Garda Síochana vote, €1.503 billion in 2011, accounted for over 64 per cent of gross current expenditure in the justice sector. Apart from the salaries and allowances of serving gardaí and civilian employees, 8,000 Garda pensioners were also paid from the vote, it added.

The submission said that, in all, 90 per cent of expenditure in the Garda vote related to pay and pensions.