Massive cutbacks will wreak chaos on the public health service next year, medics have warned.

A €619m cost-saving package confirmed by the Health Service Executive (HSE) will lengthen waiting lists, cut services and damage care, doctors say.

Launching their service plan for 2014, health chiefs admitted they have yet to decide where the axe will fall to make up a €108m hole in cutbacks ordered by the Government.

Other cuts include:

- €23m being taken out the medical card services – although this has been reduced from an originally planned €113m cut.

- €140m slashed from pay

- Another €129m savings made in procurement, shared services, “value for money” and hospital reconfiguration.

Tony O’Brien, director general of the HSE, said it was facing a “significant challenge” in delivering health services next year because of the cutbacks.

“My principal focus is to continue to deliver the same level of frontline services with a reduced budget while ensuring that quality and safety is not compromised in any way,” he said.

But Sinn Féin’s health spokesman Caoimhghín O Caoláin warned the cuts were unsustainable and will push public health services into deeper crisis.

“The health services have already been cut to the bone and the knife is still being wielded,” he said.

“The ongoing recruitment embargo and job cuts will have a seriously damaging effect.”

The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) described the plan as an “austerity charter”.

Matthew Sadlier, president of the IMO, said: “There is little doubt that we are facing into a new year with a budget for our health services that we all know is simply not adequate to provide the level of care necessary.

“It is past time that the Government takes responsibility for the provision of a safe and effective health service that allows frontline staff to deliver quality care.”

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