Health Minister James Reilly said it was a “great achievement” for the Health Service Executive to end the year with a budget overrun of under €200m.
Dr Reilly said he would be seeking a supplementary estimate to cover the overrun of between €150m and €199m to close the HSE’s account book for the year.
However, his view of the health authority’s financial performance over the year was extremely positive.
“I would think that is a great achievement on behalf of the HSE and the health service, given the increase in activity, which we have seen confirmed by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) a couple of days ago,” he said.
Dr Reilly said €190m for a 1% rise in activity for the HSE budget had been sought at the start of the year. “We were only given €90m and, in fact, the activity was more like 2%. Nonetheless, we have been able to absorb that,” he said.
“I think, all in all, out of a budget of over €13bn, to come in under €200m is great reflection of the new control that exists within the HSE,” he said.
Dr Reilly said he expected that the HSE would perform even better next year because of the new controls in place and more up-to-date spending information.
The minister said additional savings would not have to be made in next year’s budget because he expected to be granted a supplementary estimate when he asked for it in the Dáil
However, he did warn of very serious challenges for the health services next year.
“The last thing I will do as a minister for health and a doctor is disassemble our health service which has made extraordinary strides in the last two-and-a-half years.”
Dr Reilly said patient safety was his major priority, followed by timely access.
Asked when the HSE’s service plan for 2014 would be published, the minister said he was still working on it.
“I have until Monday next to publish it within the 21-day period, but it is always open to me to send it back to HSE for further} adjustment, if I feel that is appropriate.”
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