West awaits €50m health cuts

SAVAGE health cuts of almost €50 million will have to be imposed in the west of Ireland by the end of the year, it has been revealed.

And while ‘serious efforts’ are to be made to recoup €10m owed to the HSE West by private health insurers, health bosses in the region say the only way to stop a budget overrun into next year is to bring in sweeping cuts across the board. A further €32m is outstanding from private health insurers but is budgeted to be collected this year.

HSE West regional director of operations John Hennessy said it could be worse next year when there could be further budget reductions of €600m to €700m nationally.

The announcement has been greeted with dismay and anger by public representatives and doctors.

Chairperson, Regional Health Forum West, Cllr Pádraig Conneely, said the Galway area had reached saturation point and that no more savings could possibly be found for the region.

He said: “140 beds have already been closed in Galway. Community care is cut to ribbons and they are been told to cut their expenses and travel by 50%.

“How can you get to see some elderly person in Connemara without travelling? When someone is old and sick I think they are entitled to a bed in a public hospital.”.

Consultant trauma and orthopaedic surgeon, Bill Curtin said: “The people of the west of Ireland will not be able to access the same level of services as before. It means that people will be waiting longer, have more pain, more disability and in the end more hardship and perhaps a risk of greater problems.”

Councillors from nine counties stretching from Limerick to Donegal were informed at yesterday’s HSE regional health forum that €12m would be saved every month from now until the end of the year by cutting temporary staff by 7,000 hours per week.

Further measures would include controlling a €5m annual absenteeism and sick leave bill and redeploying corporate and support staff from headquarters to hospitals, as part of the €12m monthly savings, he said.


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