HSE boss warns cuts will lead to bed closures

Monday 03 September 2012 10.44
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The HSE has acknowledged that beds will be closed to save money
The HSE has acknowledged that beds will be closed to save money
Tony O'Brien raised the possibility of other cuts
Tony O'Brien raised the possibility of other cuts
Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said the cuts need to be discussed at Cabinet
Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said the cuts need to be discussed at Cabinet

The head of the Health Service Executive has acknowledged that the cuts announced this week by the organisation will lead to bed and theatre closures.

Speaking on RTÉ's This Week programme, HSE Director General designate Tony O'Brien said the Government had ordered cuts of €130m be implemented to provide assurances to the Troika.

Mr O’Brien said those cuts remain its focus but he raised the possibility that they could be replaced by other cuts if they were guaranteed to save €130m.

If the reduction in spending was not introduced the HSE would be heading to a deficit of €500m, which would mean it would run out of money before the end of the year.

Mr O'Brien said that this was simply not an option.

Asked if the reductions in overtime and the use of agency staff would lead to bed and theatre closures, Mr O'Brien replied "absolutely".

He said the cuts do represent "significant challenges" and could not be done without some impact on the availability of beds.

Every measure would be subject to a risk assessment and every measure would have to pass that test, Mr O'Brien said.

Announcement of health cuts 'unacceptable'

Labour TD Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said the manner of the health cuts announced by Minister for Health James Reilly was not acceptable.

The Labour Party, including senior ministers, was not informed about the plans.

Mr Ó Ríordáin said there have been a lot of communication problems in the minister's department and it was not the first time that this has happened.

He said the decision was handled badly and the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday would be the ideal opportunity for the issue to be discussed.

Mr Ó Ríordáin also called for the cuts to be reversed, saying there were other areas in the health budget that could be tackled.

Labour Party Chairman Colm Keaveney also said the proposed cuts are unacceptable to members of his party.

Mr Keaveney said he wants the Taoiseach to initiate a review of the measures when the Cabinet meets.

Speaking on This Week, he said that Mr O'Brien should commence a line-by-line scrutiny of the HSE budget to identify waste.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said Mr Keaveney's statement was extraordinary.

He asked where he had been for the last 12 months, amid warnings about the looming crisis in the health service finances.

Mr Martin also said his party is considering putting forward a motion in the forthcoming Dáil session in relation to Minister Reilly's stewardship of his department.

He said the whole situation around Minister Reilly was destabilising the Government and causing considerable division within the Government.

Mr Martin said the situation for Minister Reilly was untenable and others in his own party were saying as such.

Keywords: hse, health

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