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Minister must explain unrealistic savings targets in HSE service plan - Louise O'Reilly TD

24 October, 2018 - by Louise O'Reilly TD

Speaking this afternoon following the Oireachtas Health Committee meeting on health service funding for 2018, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Deputy Louise O’Reilly has challenged officials from the Department of Health regarding the inclusion of unrealistic savings targets in the HSE service plan for 2018.

Teachta O’Reilly said:

“Last year on budget day and in the days after the budget both I and my colleagues warned the Minister for Health and the government that they were not giving the health service enough money necessary to standstill let alone improve.

“Weeks later the then head of the HSE wrote a letter highlighting the very grave impact of the government’s choices. He predicted the service was being underfunded for 2018 to the tune of hundreds of millions and this is exactly what happened.

“We now know that the underfunding has resulted in the health service needing an additional €700 million.

“This morning officials from the Department of Health attended the Oireachtas Health Committee to explain the situation and the key pressures on the health spend.

“Unsurprisingly, the answers we received were completely unsatisfactory. 

“In particular the Department of Health and the Minister for Health have serious questions to answer over the inclusion of unrealistic savings targets in the HSE service plan.

“The National Service Plan 2018 specifically set out key risk areas and an associated saving requirement of €346m.

“However, not only were these savings not delivered, but they could never have been delivered in the first place.

“Under questioning the Department officials admitted to me that while they had identified €77m in savings that could be made, they hadn’t identified where the other €269m in savings could be made.

“It is ridiculous that savings targets are being included in the HSE service plan that is approved by the Department of Health that is not grounded in fact or reality and for which no explanation can be given for where the advised savings figures have come from.

“The Minister for Health must outline why he stood over the publication of a service plan with absolutely unrealistic savings figures included."

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