Incoming HSE chief warns of new cuts

The incoming head of the HSE has warned of a new round of cuts in the health service in the coming months promising to clamp down on sick leave and discretionary spending.

Tony O'Brien said the Executive still has a massive deficit of €259m at the end of this month.

It is expected to top €500m by the end of the year unless action is taken.

Earlier this week, it was announced that 50 beds will close in the Louth-Meath hospital group, all agency staff will go by December and overtime will be terminated in a bid to cut costs.

SIPTU Health Division organiser Paul Bell said that Mr O'Brien and the Health Minister should look beyond sick pay and tackle issues like the recruitment freeze in the sector to save money.

"You cannot allow your service to be based on huge amounts of agency staff working continually," he said.

"One is that it's a huge amount of money, waste of money - in some cases, 33% more than if you employed the person directly".

"And secondly, more importantly, the continuity of service - whether you get good quality service when you're using that labour arrangement."

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