HSE records deficit of €80 million in first three months of the year

Overrun more than €50 million ahead of same period last year

The HSE has recorded a financial deficit of in excess of €80million in the first three months of the year, more than €50 million higher than for the same period last year.

More than three quarters of the over-run arose in the acute hospital sector which had a deficit of just under €63 million at the end of March, new official figures show.

Hospitals have reported a shortfall in income and a rise in the cost of staff provided through employment agencies, particularly doctors.

The new figures show that the HSE deficit increased by €26 million from €54 million to €80.423 million between February and March this year.


The HSE report outlining the figures suggests that Government moves last year to introduce new legislation aimed at increasing funding received from private health insurance companies has not been totally successful.

The report says that “initial indications are that the reduction in the day case charge and general private patient mix issues are having the effect of reducing overall income”.

It indicates that these issues accounted for €10 million of the deficit in the first quarter of the year. Agency personnel The report says that higher costs experienced in relation to agency personnel accounted for €14 million of the deficit in the hospital sector.

“This primarily reflects the diminishing capacity to recruit doctors and price increases for agency provision rather than any volume growth in medical staff inputs.

“Acute hospital agency costs overall have increased by €19 million (up 56 per cent) compared to the same period last year however 80 per cent of that increase is in the areas of medical staff and support staff.

“These staff were already at the Haddington Road agreement maximum hours and therefore the hospitals did not benefit from additional hours (provided under the deal). Cost growth and under performance in cost containment plans are also currently evident.”

The report shows that the University Hospital Limerick had a deficit of €5.93 million while Waterford Regional Hospital had an overrun of €4 million. University College Hospital in Galway had a deficit of €3.315 million while the Mater Hospital in Dublin had exceeded its budget by €3.89 million at the end of March.

Last week The Irish Times reported that the newly appointed head of the State's acute hospitals has warned hospitals their costs are running at unsustainable levels and must be immediately addressed.

Dr Tony O’Connell, national director of acute hospitals said in a letter to hospitals dated last Wednesday that there was a “lack of visibility of savings”.

The HSE report says that its primary care division had an overall deficit of around €9 million in the first three months of 2014.

“This deficit was largely attributable to local demand led schemes of €10 million. Contingency options are being explored to seek breakeven of any deficit in the local demand led schemes within the totality of the primary care division budget for 2014.”

Last week the Minister for Health James Reilly said that €108 million in previously-anticipated pay savings in the health service this year were not achievable.

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is the former Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent