HSE records €116.2m overspend in first four months of 2019

Minister says costs of acute hospitals, medical card and treatment abroad schemes to blame

Overspending in the health services increased by €13 million in April to more than €116 million, the Dáil has heard.

Minister for Health Simon Harris said that at the end of April the Health Service Executive (HSE) had a deficit of €116.2 million, up from €103 million in the first quarter.

The overrun in the first four months of the year follows a €600 million deficit last year and record level of funding being allocated for this year.

Mr Harris said acute hospitals, various Medical Card schemes and the treatment abroad scheme were the main contributors to the overrun up to the end of April.

“The HSE’s latest income and expenditure position as of April 30th shows a revenue deficit of €116.2 million, which represents 2.3 per cent of the available budget,” Mr Harris said.

During question time in the Dáil, Fianna Fáil health spokesman Stephen Donnelly asked if the Minister would introduce a supplementary budget or if costs could be reduced.

Mr Harris said he wanted to allow the new HSE chief executive Paul Reid and the board to do its own due diligence.

The Minister said he had been very clear with Mr Reid and the board.

“We expect them to deliver everything in the service plan,” he said. “It’s not about cut backs or anybody doing less. It’s about not doing things that are not costed.”

Mr Reid insisted at the Oireachtas Health Committee last week that no cuts in services were on the table, but he would hold a series of meetings with senior officials to examine spending, pressures on services and forecasted outcomes.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is a parliamentary reporter with The Irish Times