UCC health economist warns €850m increase in HSE budget is 'only a drop in the ocean'

A health economist has warned that the HSE has “very little wriggle room” in its budget for next year and if additional money is required services might have to be cut.

Dr Brian Turner of University College Cork told RTE’s Morning Ireland that while the 200 extra beds planned for 2012 will help the overstretched service, “they will be only a drop in the ocean”.

He pointed out that no account has been made for the possibility of industrial action by nurses, saying “That could throw out the figures”.

Dr Turner was commenting as the HSE unveiled their Strategic Plan which reveals that a record budget of €16bn has been allocated in 2019, an increase of almost €850m on 2018’s budget.

The increase comes following an overspend of €700m in health this year.

Dr Turner added that €114m would immediately go towards last year’s over-run.

He said: “The HSE is being upfront that they will have to cut services. They have indicated there are a number of risks, but they’re not clear which services could potentially be cut.”

Dr Turner said that one option would be to cut elective procedures to ensure emergency procedures are prioritised.

Another area of concern in relation to the budget will be public service pay restoration, he said.

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