Simon Harris: No money to bail out HSE

There is no extra money to bail out the HSE despite its €100m overspend so far this year.

Simon Harris: No money to bail out HSE

That is according to Health Minister Simon Harris, who said that no additional funding would be provided by the Government for any overspend by the HSE in delivering commitments set out in its National Service Plan.

He told the Oireachtas health committee that the HSE was taking steps to reduce the spending overrun.

“My department and the HSE are operating and planning on the basis that additional funding will not be available for any overspend in delivering the commitments set out in the National Service Plan 2017,” said Mr Harris.

His department is involved in discussions with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform about providing extra money to the HSE to cover spending overruns in other areas.

Mr Harris pointed out that the discussions centred on payments made under central wage agreements and overruns in settlements by the State Claims Agency.

He told the committee that some hospitals were better than others at reducing overcrowding in their emergency departments.

Hospitals such as Beaumont and Connolly in Dublin and in Cavan and Mayo had the lowest number of people on trolleys since the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation started a daily monitoring process in 2006.

“Managers do make a difference, and good management makes a big difference,” he said.

“There are capacity issues established in all of our hospitals yet we have some making much more significant progress than others.”

Labour TD Alan Kelly said Mr Harris was not comparing “apples with apples”.

Hospitals could not be compared using “bottom-line statistics” because of their circumstances, he said.

Mr Kelly said a challenge facing University Hospital Limerick was getting patients out of the hospital due to a transport issue.

Mr Harris said he would be meeting members of the University of Limerick Hospital Group today to discuss how improvements could be made in patient throughput.

He said €3.6m in additional funding had been provided this year for the National Ambulance Service, which had a total budget of €155m.

The service was to prioritise the issue of inter-hospital transfers to ease pressure on acute hospitals, and he understood such transfers had increased.

Mr Harris also told the committee that nine new hi-tech medicines to treat conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and depression would be made available to patients from November 1.

Mr Kelly noted that an announcement, last July, saying the drugs would be available, was “false” because the HSE had no intention of funding the drugs until the end of the year.

Mr Harris agreed the process for approving the drugs was “extraordinarily unedifying”, but he did not agree that the delay was intended.

The minister also said more scoliosis surgeries had been carried out in Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin and Temple Street Children’s University Hospital already this year than for the whole of last year.

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