HSE service plan warns of necessity to make savings of €346m

‘Growing cost of delivering core services’ in 2018 presents HSE with financial challenges

HSE director general Tony O’Brien: meeting new drug costs, investing in critical infrastructure and working within constraints will be among the health budget challenges. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

HSE director general Tony O’Brien: meeting new drug costs, investing in critical infrastructure and working within constraints will be among the health budget challenges. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

The Health Service Executive (HSE) will have to find ways to save €346 million next year if it is to avoid recording a deficit of that size, its director general Tony O’Brien has warned.

In the HSE’s service plan, which details how it intends to spend the €14.5 billion allocated to it by the Department of Health, Mr O’Brien warns of a number of risks to the delivery of health services.

He notes nine different challenges including the recruitment and retention of staff, the use of agency personnel and staying within its pay budget.

“The growing cost of delivering core services is such that the HSE faces a very significant financial challenge in 2018 in maintaining the existing level of overall activity . . .” he says in his remarks in the document, which is to be published today.

“In mitigating this, we are conscious that maintaining services and driving improvements in patient safety and quality remain over-riding priorities across the health sector, and all savings and efficiency measures will be assessed with these priorities in mind.”

‘Improvement opportunities’

He says it is the HSE’s intention from the start of next year to find ways to record “improvement opportunities” of up to €346 million to address its financial challenges.

This new programme will “improve value within existing services”, “improve value within non-direct service areas” and involve “strategic value improvement”.

Government sources insisted this was not an attempt to reduce services but about running a smoother service.

Mr O’Brien says meeting new drug costs, investing in critical infrastructure, and working within the constraints posed by clinical, business and human resources systems will be other challenges.

He says that next year offers an opportunity to create much needed strategic certainty in the organisation. He says the current model and design of the services are not fit for purpose and target a younger demographic. Slaintecare, an Oireachtas committee report, presents a huge chance, if appropriately resourced and governed, to transform the health and wellbeing of the population and how they access health services.

The service plan will be launched on Wednesday by Mr O’Brien and Minister for Health Simon Harris.