No direct connection between money and patient outcomes - Taoiseach
FF leader accuses Government of ‘lack of transparency’ about resources
The Irish Times story on the struggle between the Health Service Executive and the Department of Health over how the spending plan for the health service this year should be presented to the public was published on Monday.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said there is no direct connection between money and resources and outcomes for patients in the health services. This was a “false proposition’’ he said, adding “we know that is not the case’’.
He said in one year, when there was no increase in funding for hospitals, activity increased by seven per cent.
Another year, when there was a funding increase, activity went down, he said.
The Taoiseach was replying in the Dáil on Wednesday to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, who said journalist Martin Wall, in an article in The Irish Times earlier this week, had confirmed a fundamental lack of transparency about funding for the health services and a clear attempt by Government to cover up the truth.
“The Government essentially published a spending plan for health in the full knowledge it will not be sufficient,’’ Mr Martin said.
Mr Varadkar said this year’s HSE national service plan set out a budget of almost €15bn for the HSE.
“This is the largest budget for our public health service since the foundation of the State and represents an increase of over €600m on 2017, a very substantial increase in the level of funding,’’ he said.
He said Ireland was among the top five countries in the world in terms of health spending per head of population.
“That comes on top of a period, including a recessionary period , during which spending was above average in the western world,’’ he added.
The Irish Times reported on Monday that internal documents indicated there had been a struggle between the Health Service Executive and the Department of Health at the highest levels late last year over how the €15 billion spending plan for the health service this year should be presented to the public.
The documentation illustrated that the HSE wanted to emphasise, in the published plan, concerns that it did not have enough money for services in 2018, while the department objected to such “negativity” and instead wanted it to highlight positive issues such as new developments which were to be funded in the year ahead.
“The overall tone of the document is overly negative and needs to be reworked,” was one remark attributed to the department’s secretary-general, Jim Breslin.
The correspondence showed too that the department also objected to moves by the HSE to specifically warn in the service plan that it “would be exceptionally challenging for the HSE to live within available resources in the coming year while maintaining levels of performance and protecting patient safety”.
The department noted this was “unacceptable language”.