Paschal Donohoe labelled Stephen Donnelly’s handling of his Department “appalling” in the run up to this year’s Budget, according to new documents.
The documents, released to the Irish Daily Mail, reveal the extent of the unhappiness at the Department of Public Expenditure with their colleagues at Health.
The Department of Health has projected an overspend of between €1.1 and €1.7billion this year, a situation Minister Donohoe described as a “significant risk to our public finances”.
“In the briefing provided to him by officials which note the expected overrun coming up to the Budget, one official writes, ‘This represents a failure of Budget management in our view,’” Irish Daily Mail Political Correspondent Craig Hughes told The Pat Kenny Show.
“They go on and they’re quite critical of the HSE as well.
“They say the HSE is ‘unwilling to design and implement the necessary expenditure actions to achieve a substantial reduction in the overrun.’”
The two Departments had been in contact about the budget as early as March and Minister Donnelly introduced a number of cost-cutting measures to rein in spending in recent months.
“We saw the CEO of the HSE introduce a recruitment freeze for managers and also around the issue of agency spending and overtime,” Mr Hughes said.
“So, I think it’s unfair to say that nothing was done.”
Budget 2024 increased core spending on the health service by €808 million but HSE CEO Bernard Gloster described the settlement as “not adequate for all current costs”.
Ireland’s population is both growing and ageing, both of which means demand for healthcare is expected to rise in the years ahead.
“The story of the health service repeatedly every year has been cost overruns,” Mr Hughes said.
“It’s something we’re accustomed to and expected but this year Paschal Donohoe seems to have gone, ‘No, this is the line and we literally cannot go any further past it.’”
In a statement to Newstalk, the Department of Health said they had taken a "range of measures" to reign in spending this year, such as cutting the amount spent on consultancy costs and agency overtime.
Main image: Stephen Donnelly, Minister for Health, speaks to journalists ahead of a cabinet meeting at the Government Buildings in Dublin.