Ó Caoláin welcomes government U-turn on supplementary health budget
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, has welcomed the government’s u-turn on introducing a supplementary health budget. The Cavan/Monaghan TD described today’s confirmation from Brendan Howlin that the government will have a supplementary health budget as evidence of a government “with no coherent strategy for health, incapable of managing the health service and making up policy on the hoof”.
“This is evidence of the Minister for Health’s failure to realise promised savings in the health budget in areas such as the drugs bill and recouping the real cost of private care in public hospitals.
“For months now the Taoiseach and Minister have rejected any suggestion of a supplementary budget. Everyone else knew that, given the severe cuts being forced on the health budget by the government, and the deficits being run up by hospitals, a supplementary budget was not only essential but inevitable. Yesterday, at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health the Minister reaffirmed the government's intent to cut a further €900 million from Health in December’s budget. Can this now also be revisited?
“This morning when challenged on the issue of a supplementary budget by Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams the Taoiseach refused to answer the question and waffled a response. The government is pushing the health service over a cliff. Their cuts programme is unsustainable.”
Note to Editor: Gerry Adams questions Taoiseach in Dáil this morning.
Deputy Gerry Adams: Will the Taoiseach confirm whether there will be a supplementary budget for health this year? He is aware of the cost overruns in health and that the HSE deficit stood at €394 million at the end of September. Moreover, this is despite savage cuts affecting home helps, public nursing home patients and staffing in hospitals, as well as disability and carer's allowances.
An Ceann Comhairle: Thank you.
Deputy Gerry Adams: I also refer to the failure to make savings in other areas. Can the Taoiseach confirm there will be a supplementary budget for health this year? If so, when will it be brought before the Dáil and can the Taoiseach indicate what size it will be?
An Ceann Comhairle: We cannot deal with that.
The Taoiseach: I can confirm for the Deputy that all these matters are relevant to the budgetary discussions that are under way and have been for quite some time. Changes made in the structures to the health system, which the Deputy specifically mentioned, and all of that will be concluded in good time before the budget on 5 December.