HSE criticised as 'unresponsive to patients' needs' after deficit hits €281m

HSE criticised as 'unresponsive to patients' needs' after deficit hits €281m
HSE boss Paul Reid

The HSE had run a deficit of €281m by the end of July this year.

HSE boss Paul Reid will tell an Oireachtas committee this morning that the service is running well over budget.

In June, Mr Reid told TDs he thought the HSE could break even this year. At that stage, the deficit the organisation was running was tabbed at €103m by the end of March.

The current deficit means the health service will likely require another large bailout, despite being given a record budget in 2019.

One ray of sunshine Mr Reid will cling to is that the deficit at the same time in 2018 was 72% higher, at €485m.

Mr Reid will tell TDs and Senators he's instructed HSE managers to limit overspend as much as they can. Those measures will include curbing the spend on agency staff, overtime, and staffing levels.

Dr Michael Harty, chairman of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health, who will question Mr Reid and Health Minister Simon Harris at their meeting this morning, said the health service is failing patients and no amount of investment seems to make a difference.

They'll be asking about the HSE's increasing budget deficit, waiting lists, and the delays to the National Children's Hospital.

Dr Harty says our hospitals are short-staffed, overcrowded, and "unresponsive to patients' needs".

"The health service has huge issues in relation to bed capacity, in relation to nursing numbers, in relation to consultant staff, in relation to access to diagnostics, and all these are feeding into what we're seeing every day, extended outpatient waiting lists."

He added:

We have a very inefficient health service which is not delivering for patients. Pouring more money every year into an inefficient system is not going to reform it.

"We need to engage in proper, practical health reform and that requires ringfenced funding so that you can allowed a service to reform while still delivering a service. That hasn't started yet."

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