SF says Health will seek extra €360m


A spokesman for Minister for Health James Reilly has described as speculation a Sinn Féin claim that he is seeking €360 million in extra funding for his department to offset a massive cost overrun.

Sinn Féin had claimed the Minister was seeking a supplementary budget of €130 million to meet deficits in hospitals, child welfare and other services and €220 million to recoup overspending in the primary care reimbursement service, which includes the cost of medical cards.

Dr Reilly told the Oireachtas health committee yesterday morning the supplementary budget for his department had yet to be finalised. He expressed confidence it would come in at under 2 per cent of overall expenditure. This equates to about €260 million-€270 million.

Later, Sinn Féin health spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin issued a statement saying a €360 million supplementary estimate would appear on the Dáil order paper next Tuesday, before it is discussed at the Health subcommittee and returned to the Dáil for final adoption on December 13th.

Health system ‘underfunded’

“It serves as recognition of the fact that our health system was underfunded from the outset. It highlights the recklessness of the cuts introduced in the autumn.

“Furthermore, it reflects the fact that the Minister himself failed to deliver on his own savings commitments,” he said.

Although the committee meeting was called to discuss health spending, Dr Reilly said he couldn’t provide any degree of details yesterday as these would be announced in next week’s budget and were the subject of ongoing Cabinet discussions.

Committee chairman Jerry Buttimer said members had told him in private session they were disappointed with the lack of information provided in advance to the committee by the Minister.