HSE projects €212m deficit by year’s end excluding cost of flu

THE Health Service Executive (HSE) is projecting a €212 million income shortfall by the end of the year, a figure which does not factor in the cost of a flu pandemic.

In addition, the figure does not include any potential liability arising from legal action taken by pharmacists against the HSE in relation to advance payments.

In its monthly performance monitoring report, published online yesterday, the HSE said its financial position as of July 31 “indicates a deficit of €123m”, reflecting total expenditure of €7.950 billion against a year-to-date budget of €7.827bn.

It said the “primary drivers of the deficit” relate to pension costs running €47m ahead of budget and hospitals €48m ahead of budget.

In relation to capital spend, the HSE report said its 2009 capital plan “remains unapproved” and as such the HSE remains under a Department of Finance embargo regarding contractual commitments beyond 2009.

For the year to date, the capital position indicates a deficit of €33m largely due to the late (April) implementation of a €30m cut in the 2009 allocation, the HSE said.

The only capital projects which have received the go ahead since February 2009 are those which are Government priorities. These include:

* Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children Crumlin, stem cell lab (€2.5m).

* Cork University Hospital, transfer of diagnostic breast services (€5.0m).

* St Vincent’s Hospital, Development Phase 2 (€2.0m).

* Our Lady of Lourdes, Drogheda, equipping A&E department (€1.5m).

* Mid Western Regional Hospital, Limerick – trauma theatre (€1.6m)

At the outset of 2009 the HSE national director of commercial and support services withdrew all previous letters of approval for capital projects and following a review issued new approvals as appropriate.

Since February, no contractual commitment of any value and for any project can be entered into without prior written approval from the national director.

In relation to swine flu, the report says the main focus of HSE planning is on the “potential for serious outbreak in the autumn/ winter, possibly of a more severe strain of the virus”.

The HSE is planning for 30% of the population being infected at this time and a regional mass vaccination group has been advancing its plan for vaccination.

“The logistics involved are enormous and no vaccination programme of this magnitude has ever before been undertaken in the State. It will be many weeks before arrangements are finalised. The mass vaccination programme will require large numbers of staff to be temporarily re-deployed and will necessitate the suspension of some other activities,” the report says.

It also says that more than €5m has already been spent on flu-related activities.


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