TD urges budget cut for ERHA


A cut in the budget of the Eastern Regional Health Authority (ERHA) has been called for by an Independent TD in the event of Dublin hospitals turning away patients from outside their catchment area.

Dr Liam Twomey, a TD for Wexford, said the per capita budgets of the South Eastern Health Board and the North Eastern Health Board were below the national average. This was due to the historical movement of patients from these health board areas to hospitals in the ERHA area.

Major Dublin hospitals had indicated recently that they did not want to treat patients from outside their catchment areas unless referred by a consultant. If they insisted on this policy, there should be a corresponding cut in the ERHA's budget and increases in funding for the south-east and north-east boards, he said.

Dr Twomey recently received a list of the per capita funding of each health board in a written parliamentary question to the Minister for Health, Mr Martin.

The SEHB received the second-lowest level of per capita funding, followed by the NEHB, while the ERHA received the highest. Mr Martin said the differences reflected factors such as demographics, the presence of national or regional specialities, and the instances of patient transfer from board to board.

Dr Twomey said if the SEHB received the same per capita budget as the Western Health Board, its funding would increase by around €140 million.

He asked if the ERHA would favour seeing its budget cut by €140 million to help the people of the south-east get treatment in their region, rather than "clogging up the Dublin hospitals".