FIANNA Fáil Leader Micheál Martin has called for an urgent meeting of the Regional Health Forum for the HSE South following revelations that essential services for elderly patients are being affected by cuts to tackle the massive overspend in the HSE.
Deputy Martin said: “The cuts we’re seeing at CUH with transport costs for elderly patients no longer being covered are just the beginning. There is a major overspend in the HSE and significant cuts are secretly being planned at hospitals across the country with the public being kept completely in the dark about the services that will affected. Minister Reilly has failed to tackle this issue in an open and honest way from the outset.
“For weeks I raised the issue of the health budget for 2012 in the Dáil. It was clear that the estimate was false and that the Minister was not going to achieve the necessary savings in the areas he specified. The HSE knew, Cathal Magee knew and the Minister knew it as well. Both the Minister and the Taoiseach repeatedly denied that there was any problem until the scale of the crisis got so big they couldn’t hide it anymore. There are four full months left in the financial year and the HSE had an over spend of €280m at the end of May, a projected €500m overspend for the year. The reality of Minister’s Reilly’s false estimate and mismanagement means frontline services face major cuts and hospitals will be under enormous pressure to cut costs.
“Last month at a meeting of the Regional Health Forum in the HSE South I specifically raised the issue of frontline services in Cork and what services would be affected by the budget situation in the HSE but there was no information forthcoming from the HSE. Now we have a situation where management at CUH have been forced to stop covering the cost of transporting elderly patients to and from nursing homes. These are the kind of cuts that other hospitals around the country are being forced into because of the Minister’s failure to provide adequately for the health service.
“We need to hear from the HSE South and from all regions what cuts are being planned. We cannot have a situation where the HSE is secretly planning major cuts across the country and the public is being kept in the dark. This is the Minister’s failure and he must take responsibility for it.”