Donegal North East Fianna Fáil TD Charlie McConalogue has expressed deep concern that drastic cuts to frontline health services in Donegal are being secretly planned to tackle the budget crisis in the health service.
The HSE overspend was €280m at the end of May and is expected to hit over €500m at the end of year. The Government is now planning to rein in all of this overspend over the four months left in the year. It has said ‘measures to address the emerging spending overruns in the health sector are to be specified before the end of September 2012’.
Deputy McConalogue said: “Due to Minister James Reilly's incompetence in setting a budget for the year, he is putting pressure on local managers to drastically reduce essential services to deal with the deficit. Even worse, these cuts to frontline services in Donegal and across the country are being planned in secret. The Regional Health Forums must be informed about the measures that are being examined and public representatives must be informed. There is already anecdotal evidence that hospital managers are coming under extraordinary pressure to cut essential services.
“It has been clear for months that Minister Reilly brought a false budget before the Dáil last year for the health service. He could never have achieved the identified savings in the areas he specified. In fact it took the Minister seven months to introduce legislation on the cost of drugs alone.
“Patients in need of care at Letterkenny General Hospital and those who rely on community health services across Donegal should not be forced to suffer for the Minister’s failure to adequately plan the health service budget for the year.
“The HSE and the Regional Health Forums need to be clear in communicating to patients and their families through local representatives the scale of the problems facing hospitals, in this case Letterkenny General. This is crucial in order to alleviate fears in our communities that cuts will be severe and services will be significantly reduced.”
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