Michael Staines
Michael Staines

10.01 10 Oct 2019


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The Health Minister has said HSE administrators have become too used to getting bailed out in the budget every year.

Simon Harris said the new CEO of the health service has made it clear that annual overspends on health overspends must be reined in.

In the budget earlier this week, the Finance Minister once again set aside extra fund for the Department of Health - which is set to overspend its budget by €335m this year.

On Newstalk Breakfast, Minister Harris said “there was definitely a culture” within the health service over the years that overspends were to be expected.

“I have to hand it to Paul Reid the new CEO [of the HSE],” he said. “He made it very clear on day one that that culture was ending.”

“As he said – if we don’t have the money, we don’t spend the money.”

Health budget

He insisted however, that it remains “almost impossible” to run a health service without taking decision that were not budgeted for.

“Bringing a health service in on budget is a real challenge,” he said.

“It is a challenge in Ireland; it is a challenge in every country. We don’t have the luxury in the health service of telling a sick person, ‘we are out of money come back next year.’”

Overspend

He said the Department overspend was “significantly lower” than last year’s overspend of €655m.

“It is €309m out of a budget of about €17bn and on top of that we are making an extra €26m available for the winter,” he said.

“So of course it is a significant amount – but look at what it was spent on.

“It was spent on a new deal for the nurses, the midwives, extra funding and support for SIPTU workers; it was spent on Brexit; it was spent on supports for CervicalCheck.”

Medicine

The minister also urged patients not to stockpile their medication as uncertainty builds over Brexit.

Many medicines that make their way to the Irish market are made in or transported through the UK.

He said Ireland is well stocked to cope with any shortages – even if the UK crashes out without a deal.

He said there is a buffer of six to eight weeks in the supply chain and said his department has also sourced alternative suppliers if needed.


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