No plans 'to revisit' Croke Park deal

 

Minister for Health Mary Harney has said the Government has no plans to revisit the Croke Park agreement on public service pay and reform and that any savings to be made in the health budget would have to come from non-core pay and greater staff flexibility.

Yesterday, Ms Harney indicated health spending may be cut by up to €1 billion next year. However, core pay for civil service staff is protected under the terms of the agreement.

Speaking to reporters today, she said the “big challenge” for the agreement is to deliver change on the ground and flexible working practises.

She said roughly €1billion of the HSE pay bill is for non-core pay and this figure needs to be looked at in an “aggressive fashion” to see if savings can be made to minimise the effect of cuts on front line services.

Ms Harney said staff working hours, premium rates of pay, rosters and day wards are all issues that need to be looked at in the run up to the budget. She added the public service needs to copy the private sector and introduce more flexible working practises.

“We need these practises to be implemented urgently across our public services particularly in the area of health. If we can get those services delivered in a more flexible fashion that will greatly reduce the pressure on the non-core pay and that in itself will make a great contribution to savings,” she said.

When asked about calls for a cut in ministerial pay, Ms Harney said nothing should be ruled out ahead of the budget.

“We’ve all got a responsibility to play our part but I’m not going to speculate on what’s going too be in the budget. Clearly we need a lot of buy in from the community and obviously those of us in leadership positions have to show leadership in this regard,” she added.