Kenny says health cuts should be quick


THE CUTS in health spending sought by the troika of the EU, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank should be made quickly but with minimal impact on front-line services, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.

“The reason for the overrun was because of the increased activity in the health area, allied to the more than expected numbers who actually exited from the public service and the health service at the end of February,” he said.

Mr Kenny said there was also “the impact of the special delivery unit in areas like trolleys, and the numbers going through for treatment in hospitals now”.

He added: “So what Government have to do here, and what the Minister for Health has got to do, is to work with the Department of Health and the [Health Service Executive] in addressing that overrun, but addressing it in a way that minimises the effect on patients at front-line level.

“We want to see that patients at the front line get the very best service and that, irrespective of what decisions have to be made, that the impact down there has to be minimised absolutely and that’s where Government, HSE and department will now focus on seeing that the overrun is corrected, as it has to be.”

When asked if it was going to be corrected now or later in the year, Mr Kenny said: “Traditionally what happened in most departments, and particularly in the Department of Health, was that you waited until the back-end of the year, and a supplementary estimate was introduced.

“There will be no supplementary estimate introduced in any department this year, so that means that the corrective measures have to be put in place now, during the second half of 2012.

“The ceilings have been set, the issues were agreed last year: they must now be implemented but, as I say, implemented in a way that minimises the impact at the level of front-line services for patients,” Mr Kenny said.

In its latest review of the Government’s compliance with the bailout programme, the troika highlighted a spending overrun at the HSE, which showed a deficit of €281.6 million to the end of May which has to be rectified by the end of September.