Troika demand further health savings

Committee told HSE is running under budget for this year but challenges lies ahead

Laverne McGuinness. Photograph : Matt Kavanagh

Laverne McGuinness. Photograph : Matt Kavanagh


The EU-IMF troika has told the HSE it wants to see further savings in the cost of drugs in the Irish market, a Dáil committee has been told.

It has also told Irish health managers it wants to see further cuts in input costs, especially in the cost of labour, HSE officials told the public accounts committee yesterday.

Troika members met senior HSE officials on Wednesday for face-to-face talks about spending in the health service.

HSE chief operations officer Laverne McGuinness said the HSE told troika representatives the health service was on track to meet spending targets in the first quarter of this year but “significant challenges” lay ahead in the months to come.

Earlier, HSE director general designate Tony O’Brien said the service was €7 million over budget in current spending at the end of March.

However, overall spending was within budget because of a €25 million underspend on capital projects.

This compares favourably to recent years, when massive overspending resulted in the HSE receiving a supplementary budget of €148 million in 2011 and€360 million last year.

Mr O’Brien expressed concern over the fate of more than €250 million in projected savings in the health service following the rejection by unions of the Croke Park II agreement.

He said he had some concern about the delivery of these savings in the current industrial relations environment. However, the Government had put in place a process to restart talks and until this was completed it was difficult to be certain about the outcome.