February 14, 2024
HSE Service Plan ‘a work of fiction’ – David Cullinane TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD has criticised the Government-approved HSE Service Plan for 2024 as “a work of fiction” which is based on a misleading and insufficient budget.

Teachta Cullinane said the acknowledgement by the Chair of the Board of the HSE that the health service will “likely require supplementary funding support” is an admission that the Service Plan is built on an insufficient budget, which Sinn Féin had called out at budget time.

The TD for Waterford said that the Government has made a mockery of the budget and service plan process, and has thrown in the towel on health.

Teachta Cullinane said:

“The HSE’s service plan for 2024 is a work of fiction. It is built on a budget which everyone knows is insufficient. The Chair of the Board of the HSE has recognised that the HSE will ‘likely require supplementary funding support,’ which in plain terms means it is under-funded.

“The reality is that the health service has not been properly funded to stand still, never mind address the challenges of waiting lists and overcrowding, or to deliver significant reform.

“We called the Government out at budget time for making a deliberate decision to underfund the health service in 2024. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have given up and thrown in the towel on health. They do not have the political will to solve the challenges faced by the health service. This disastrous decision to underfund the health service has created a financial mess that will create significant patient safety risks.

“There is no funding for the much-needed 1500 hospital inpatient beds, there is still a recruitment embargo and a Government-imposed cap on recruitment, and there is no additional funding to expand GP services, pharmacy services, hospital services, CAMHS, or home support. Strategies to advance stroke services, cancer services, and many other areas of specialist care have been starved of new funding and will not advance.

“At the same time, the Government is mandating a cut in agency spending. We have long called for this, but the Government is being reckless by imposing a cap to significantly reduce recruitment while at the same time cutting funding for temporary staff. If agency staff cannot be directly hired by the HSE and if that funding is cut, there will be serious consequences for services and patient safety.

“What was needed was an ambitious budget that supported a relentless march to universal healthcare and a national health service. Sinn Féin proposed to properly fund existing levels of service, which the Government underfunded by at least half a billion euro, and to invest an additional €1.3 billion to deliver 1800 hospital beds to tackle overcrowding, 400,000 medical cards, to cut the cost of medicines, expand mental health services, deliver more care at home and in the community, and to improve access to early intervention for children.

“We need a Government with an ambitious plan for the health service. Instead, the Government has made a mockery of the budget process and has thrown in the towel on health. Sinn Féin would work tirelessly and commit the resources needed to improve the health service.”

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