Simon Harris faces showdown with TDs over HSE plan

Simon Harris faces showdown with TDs over HSE plan

Health Minister Simon Harris is facing showdown talks with TDs over the ongoing failure to publish the multi-billion euro capital plan amid fears the delay is proof the surging children’s hospital costs have forced other projects to be scrapped.

Oireachtas health committee deputy chair Louise O’Reilly confirmed the group will demand Mr Harris and Department of Health and HSE officials attend an emergency meeting over the delay when the Dáil returns. 

While the HSE budget for frontline services is normally published at the start of every year, the capital plan is a separate document usually published alongside the report.

However, the capital plan for 2019 has yet to be released, causing significant service planning problems.

Despite the Government insisting earlier this year that the surging costs would not force other projects to be scrapped, opposition parties have said the ongoing failure to publish the capital plan contradicts this claim.

In June, HSE director general Paul Reid said the report would be published in July, before this and another early August deadline failed to be met.

Ms O’Reilly said officials must now explain the lack of transparency publicly.

“It’s clear that the cost overrun on the children’s hospital is having an impact on other projects and the Government is unwilling to admit this.

“We need to get answers on what local projects are going to be axed or delayed and it may be that this will require a Dáil debate, and I will be seeking a committee hearing.”

In a statement to the Irish Examiner, a HSE spokesperson said “the HSE and the department are currently engaged in a process to finalise the capital plan, and expect to publish it in the near future”.

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