HSE says €17m cost overrun ‘not sustainable’

THE Health Service Executive (HSE) said yesterday that a cost overrun in the mid-west of €17 million for the first quarter of this year “is not sustainable”.

The HSE was yesterday commenting on a document it has circulated to unions in the mid-west containing proposed cost-cutting measures totalled at €17.6m.

According to the HSE, its total budget for 2011 in the mid-west is €605m and it “remains committed to meeting its service plan targets for this year”.

A spokeswoman said: “On the basis of the spend for the first quarter of 2011, the mid-west is looking at a projected over-run in the order of €17m.”

She said: “Clearly the situation is not sustainable and the HSE, along with all other public sector organisations, has a responsibility to deliver a service within the budget allocated.

She confirmed: “Measures that do not have an impact on frontline services are being implemented, including among others improving day case activity levels, improving same-day admission for services and theatre efficiency, reducing average length of stay, controlling overtime, agency and on-call costs, reducing absenteeism and controlling travel and subsistence costs, legal costs etc.

“We are also targeting substantial improvements in our income collection in 2011.

She said: “All areas of expenditure are being reviewed and will continue to be reviewed to ensure that maximum levels of efficiency, productivity and value for money are achieved. Every effort will be made to ensure that these measures have the least impact on our patients and clients.”

The issue is set to be raised today at the HSE West forum’s meeting where Cllr Brian Meaney (Green) has tabled a question seeking more details on the planned cuts.

Industrial relations officer with SIPTU, Mary Fogarty, has expressed her “huge concern for services in the mid-west” over the proposed €17.6m cuts across all services this year.

Ms Fogarty said that the proposed cuts, if implemented, “will be detrimental to the reconfiguration process in the mid-west”.

The reconfiguration of services in the mid-west involves the centralisation of services at the Mid-West Regional Hospital in Limerick with the ending of 24hr emergency department services & at Ennis and Nenagh General Hospitals, along with acute surgical and medicine also being centralised.

Already, in the first two months of this year, the reconfiguration process has contributed to the Regional Hospital being 22% or €4.8m over budget.

Ms Fogarty said: “The HSE has told us that they could be facing a shortfall of €30m in acute services if nothing is done and that they have no option but to propose these cuts.”

She added: “HSE Officials have told us that they believe the reconfiguration has not been properly funded.”

Ms Fogarty confirmed that SIPTU has requested more detail from the HSE on the proposed cuts and a further meeting on the proposals.

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