FOI reveals HSE plans to 'break even' through cuts to disability & older persons services – Pearse Doherty TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Finance, Public Expenditure & Reform, Pearse Doherty TD, has responded to an FOI request which revealed the HSE's planned cuts in the areas of Disabilities, Older Persons and acute hospitals, in order to just break even.
Speaking today, the Donegal TD said:
“The HSE recently revealed that it had set up a budget oversight group with officials from the Departments of Health and Public Expenditure & Reform to control health spending and staffing levels in response to recent overruns.
“In response to an FOI request made by Sinn Féin for all records relating to this new oversight group, we received monthly minutes of meetings between HSE and department officials.
"The documents reveal that the Government plans to control spending by making cuts to essential services.
“At a meeting held on 27 May, officials stated that there were further 'saving actions' required with respect to ‘Disabilities, Older Persons and Acute Hospitals in order to break even’.
“In the FOI decision letter we were denied monthly reports that outlined what those saving measures are.
“It is clear from the documents we received that these saving measures include the ‘low hanging fruit’ of disability and older person services, such as the training allowance for school-leavers with disabilities that is due to be axed in September.
“The documents, which were not released, were denied on dubious grounds, and point to a further erosion of the Freedom of Information Act and the public right to know.
“The health service is funded by taxpayers. It is our right to know how this money is being spent, and to know if vital services to the vulnerable are being cut as a cost-saving exercise.
“I am appealing this decision and call on the Government to release these documents immediately in the public interest.”