Addressing the HSE West forum meeting in Galway yesterday, John Hennessy revealed the cost overrun, stating “it is a huge concern and a big issue”.
Figures circulated to forum members confirmed that the largest cost over-run is in the midwest, with an overspend of €16.5m.
There is an overspend of €12m in the Galway-Roscommon area, the Donegal area incurred an over-run of €4.7m, Sligo/Leitrim incurred an overspend of €2.6m and Mayo overspent by €1.2m.
In total, the HSE in the West — stretching from Donegal to Limerick — has spent €684m for the first four months of this year out of a permitted budget of €649.4m.
HSE West chairman Cllr Padraig Conneely (FG) told the meeting he was “alarmed” at the figures.
“It is very disappointing and the trend seems to be following the trend of last year when our finances were in a very bad state come September and October.”
Cllr Catherine Connolly (Ind) said the cost over-run was already in the context of empty hospital beds and wards in the service.
HSE Assistant National Director of Finance Liam Minihan said that €31.3m of the overspend is in the hospital system, reflecting the closing 2010 allocation.
He confirmed that pay expenditure is €10.7m in excess of budget.
“We face a challenging remaining period,” he said.
Mr Minihan added that “the country is broke and there is no choice but to come within budget”.
Mr Hennessy said the overall budget for the HSE West area this year “is just shy of €2 billion”.
Cllr Mary Hoade (FF) expressed concern that the HSE was heading for an overspend of €100m to the end of the year.
Mr Minihan disputed this: “If we do nothing, it might be, but actions on procurement will produce savings of €30m and all cost containment plans will save €40m, while additional income generated will produce €12m, so the core problem is around €20m to €25m.”
Mr Hennessy said the target is to maintain 2010 service levels in clinical activity. He said: “We are on track to do that.
“We are dealing with it in a balanced and measured way that protects front-line services.”