May 8, 2024
Patients and health workers paying the price for Government’s mismanagement of health budget – David Cullinane TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health, David Cullinane TD, has re-iterated calls on the Government to properly fund the health service and lift the dangerous recruitment embargo.

The Waterford TD was responding to comments made by the Secretary General of the Department of Health, who accepted that the health service will need a supplementary budget this year.

He added that the recruitment embargo must be lifted and that the health service must be properly funded to deliver the real reforms which are necessary to control the health budget.

Teachta Cullinane said:

“The HSE is already running €500 million ahead of its budget for the first four months of the year, despite the recruitment embargo and the Minister’s savings plan.

“Sinn Féin warned that this would be the case when the Government presented the Health Budget for 2024, and it has quickly materialised. This is a chaotic and ineffective way to run a health service.

“This is clear evidence that the health service has been underfunded. This is limiting the HSE’s ability to deliver reform because it cannot invest in the beds, staff, community capacity, and digital transformation that is necessary to deliver reform, reduce waste, and improve efficiency.

“The HSE is left with no alternative but to recruit agency staff and outsource services if it cannot recruit staff or build up capacity.

“Ordinary patients and health and social care workers are paying the price for the Government’s mismanagement of the health budget.

“The Government must lift the recruitment embargo to allow the HSE to fill frontline posts to tackle waiting times. GPs and primary care services need support to see more patients and reduce pressure on hospitals. This cannot happen with the embargo in place, which is pushing more care into the highest cost setting: our acute hospitals.

“To control the health budget, cut waste, and improve efficiency, Sinn Féin called for investment in digital transformation, in tackling overcrowding, and in expanding primary and community care services.

“That must be done in parallel with reducing agency staffing and cutting management consultancy fee. Value for money and efficient spending should always be a priority, but the Government has gone about it in a short-sighted and wrong-headed way.

“As a result, the health service is being ran chaotically. There is still no workforce plan for 2024, and we are already in May. This is causing huge reputational damage to the health service as a place to work. It means that healthcare workers abroad cannot come home and that most Irish graduates cannot get work because there are no jobs for them – their lives and careers are being put on hold.

“On top of this, there is no new funding to improve vital services across cancer care, cardiovascular health, stroke rehabilitation, children’s healthcare, and mental health services, to name a few.

“Planned improvements cannot happen because the funding is not there. Not only will they not progress, but clinicians are warning that services are suffering because of the mismanagement of the health budget.”

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