Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD has criticised the Government’s reckless underfunding of the health service which the CEO of the HSE has confirmed will force him to include a highly unusual planned deficit in the HSE National Service Plan for 2024.
Teachta Cullinane said:
“The Health Committee heard this morning that the CEO of the HSE and the Department Secretary General both agree that there is a black hole in the core budget for the Health Service which stands at approximately €1.3 billion.
“The CEO conceded that there will be a guaranteed deficit, that the HSE is not adequately funded, and that even with savings, efficiencies, and productivity reforms that the bulk of the deficit is out of his control, such as inflation.
“The CEO has stated that he must write a very significant deficit into the HSE Service Plan if he is not going to cut frontline service. This was accepted as highly unusual. The Service Plan will not be a true reflection of the HSE’s finances which is unprecedented.
“There is no new funding for clinical programmes, national strategies, or new medicines. It is highly disingenuous for the Government to agree strategies and then refuse to fund them, such as the new Stroke Strategy and existing strategies for cancer, maternity, and more.
“There is no certainty that the promised and needed 1500 hospital beds will be funded. It is obvious that we won’t see any of those in 2024. This is on top of the recruitment embargo and scrapped 7000 approved posts.
“This sends out a very damaging message to both young graduates and workers currently in HSE. There is huge international competition for these staff. The Government have given them a green light to leave and for foreign health services to poach them.
“We of course need efficiencies and productivity increases across the health service, especially in outsourcing and agency staffing. Sinn Féin has been saying this for years. I am as frustrated as anyone else about the lack of progress in that regard under Fine Gael in the last 13 years.
“The Government is not properly planning and investing for the health service to modernise and cope with our aging population and rising demand, which is driving costs.
“This bottom line is that there is still a deep hole in the HSE finances created by a deliberate and reckless underfunding agreed by the Government in the Budget for 2024, which must be reversed.”