Union: HSE only has itself to blame for €105m deficit

A doctors’ union says the HSE only has itself to blame for its €105m deficit because it failed to implement already agreed cost- saving measures potentially worth hundreds of millions of euro.

The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) said the measures amoun-ted to €200m for consultants and €30m for non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHDs).

It also pointed out that an additional €100m could be saved by ending the staff moratorium.

It said €30m was being forgone by the HSE by failing to transfer tasks from NCHDs to nurses as agreed by the IMO as part of the Haddington Road Agreement.

The union — which is meeting the EU Commission next month to discuss the lack of progress on implementing a 48-hour working week for junior doctors — says patients should not have to pay for HSE management failings.

The IMO is balloting NCHD members on industrial action, up to and including strike action, on the working hours issue, with a result expected on Sept 2.

IMO director of industrial relations, Steve Tweed, said it was incredible that the HSE had failed to implement the agreed changes.

“The HSE has only itself to blame for the failure to achieve these savings. It cannot be allowed to make patients and health service staff pay for this failure by cutting frontline services and seeing more from already overstretched staff.”

He said the HSE, IMO, and two other unions had agreed that certain tasks carried out by NCHDs would be transferred to nursing staff.

“The unions have been forced to refer the matter to the Labour Relations Commission [LRC] due to the HSE’s lack of engagement. The LRC has agreed to chair a meeting with the HSE later this month,” he said.

“The €30m savings that could be achieved from this agreement account for more than half of the €53m shortfall the HSE claims will arise in the hospital system this year.”

He warned that the HSE and the Government were continuing to expose the taxpayer to the risk of hefty fines by flouting the European Working Time Directive in respect of the NCHDs.

If the commission is unhappy with the progress being made in reducing hours, it may refer the matter to the European Court of Justice which can impose fines on the State to achieve compliance.

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