HSE cuts hospital spending budget by €200m

Thursday 30 January 2014 21.45
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The plan means the number of in-patient treatments and day-case treatments will be reduced
The plan means the number of in-patient treatments and day-case treatments will be reduced
The Acute Hospitals Division Service Plan was published today
The Acute Hospitals Division Service Plan was published today
St James's Hospital is considering cuts in elective procedures to deal with the funding reduction
St James's Hospital is considering cuts in elective procedures to deal with the funding reduction

Hospital groups will receive €200m less than their final spending last year, according to the Acute Hospitals Division Service Plan published today.

The HSE budget allocations this year will be €3.7bn, with the average reduction in allocation to acute hospitals being 4%.

Unlike the Regional Service Plans, which were published in previous years, the new Divisional Service Plan does not provide details of individual hospital allocations for 2014, compared with 2013.

It says the number of planned in-patient treatments and day case treatments will be reduced by 3%, which will result in 24,660 fewer day case procedures and over 3,000 fewer inpatient treatments.

An extra 40 staff posts are provided for in hospitals.

The plan promises that this year no adult will wait more than eight months for a planned operation or day-case procedure, and no child more than 20 weeks for these procedures.

The HSE also plans to reduce by 10% the number of patients whose acute care has ended but cannot be discharged for various reasons.

Acute hospitals had an overrun last year of €177m, which will be carried into 2014.

Hospitals will also have to meet the €56m of cost containment measures introduced last year.

The 2014 Haddington Road saving planned for this year is €60m, plus a reconfiguration savings target of €7.5m.

Also €80m relating to the Haddington Road Agreement is being held centrally, pending the outcome of an assessment on the allocation of these savings across each HSE service division.

Hospitals have been told to focus on improved income collection, with possible financial penalties where improvements do not occur.

The plan provides for €140m less for the Medical Card Scheme and €30m less for Community Drug Schemes this year compared with 2013.

The 2014 funding is based on projected requirements rather than historic budgets.

The hospitals that have seen the biggest cut in allocations for the year when compared with their total spend last year are:

- Beaumont Hospital €13m 
- St Vincent's Hospital €13m 
- St James's Hospital €13m 
- Tallaght Hospital €12m
- Mater Hospital €12m

Minister 'happy' with outpatient waiting times

Meanwhile, Minister for Health James Reilly has said he is happy that the number of patients waiting for outpatient appointments for over a year has been reduced by 95% since last March.

There are now fewer than 5,000 people who have been waiting over 12 months for an appointment.

Mr Reilly said those who fail to turn up for appointments following a reminder will lose their place on the list.

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke, he said he accepts that sometimes people fall through the cracks.

He invited those who feel they have to contact their GP and make themselves known to the system.

It is estimated that 28,000 people were eliminated from the waiting list because they had failed to turn up for appointments.

Mr Reilly said nobody should be left waiting longer than a year for an outpatient appointment.

The minister also said he is very concerned at the rising costs in health insurance.

He said there has been a poor audit of hospitals and doctors.

There are some procedures, he said, that used to take two hours but that now take 20 minutes and he wants to know why there has not been a reduction in costs.

In relation to the closure of Mount Carmel Hospital, Mr Reilly said a lot of consideration was given to the decision not to purchase the facility.

He said he took the advice of his department and the HSE.

Mr Reilly said he was concerned at the loss of jobs, but that he has been told many of the medical staff have been subsumed by the HSE.