The Health Service Executive (HSE) has warned that its €14bn budget for next year may not be enough because of a series of “risks”.
HSE director general Tony O’Brien said the 3.4% funding increase was part of the Government’s commitment to placing the health service on a sustainable financial footing. But, he said, there were some risks to the successful delivery of the HSE National Service Plan 2017.
“While every effort will be made to manage these risks, it may not be possible to eliminate them in full, and they may impact on planned levels of service delivery or achievement of targeted performance,” he said.
Some of the risks outlined in the health authority’s service plan include increased patient demand and control over pay and staff numbers. The health authority could also find it was unable to meet demand for new drug approvals within funded levels.
Mr O’Brien said that any pay increases in the future would have to be separately funded because he did not believe it could come out of “other activities” within the health service.
Referring to the extra €500m the HSE received in June, he said it allowed it to plan with confidence for the year and introduce “real accountability” within the system. It meant that the health authority would not be seeking a supplementary estimate at this time as it did in previous years.
However, the plan did not have a contingency fund, so that was a risk in itself.
“But to be clear, we are not planning on seeking a supplementary estimate in 2017,” he stressed.
Health Minister Simon Harris pointed out that over the past number of years the health service was asked to do more with less money and now it was being asked “to do more with more.”
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