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HSE publishes details of health spending cuts for 2013

The HSE has published its National Service Plan for 2013 which outlines the details of planned savings of €721m in 2013.  The plan aims to reduce staff numbers by 4,000 this year (4% of the workforce) which will have an inevitable impact on frontline services.

Social Justice Ireland is disappointed that the plan places priority on hospital budgets and not on primary care and community services.   The plan only makes a commitment to maintaining community services at 2012 levels, which were wholly inadequate in 2012 and will continue to be wholly inadequate in 2013.  In order to meet the growing demand for services the HSE should prioritise community services and primary care as part of a reform of the health service to make it more accessible and responsive to local needs. 

The HSE has acknowledged in the National Service Plan that the cost effectiveness of any national health care system is strongly correlated with the strength and position of primary care within that system.  However, a plan to allocate just €20m to primary care is not sufficient to enable Primary Care Teams to deliver the quality health services that communities need and are entitled to.

Social Justice Ireland pointed out in our analysis of Budget 2013 that international evidence shows that it is not possible to have a sustainable health service with a 3% reduction year-on-year.  The reduction in the Irish health service for 2013 is €721m, more that 5% of the total budget for health.  Social Justice Ireland does not believe that the targets being set are attainable if a decent healthcare service characterised by safety and high quality outcomes is to be maintained.

Some of the main points in the plan:

  • A reduction of 4,000 in staff numbers in 2013.
  • The reductions in staff will result in the loss of 6.4 million working hours in 2013.
  • Agency staff will not be used to substitute for staff losses as a result of the need to reduce health sector employment.
  • A reduction of €383m in the Primary Care Schemes to be reached by efficiencies in the Primary Care Reimbursement Service.
  • HSE will move to a ‘money follows the patient’ approach on a shadow basis in 2013.
  • In the absence of additional funding for the Nursing Home Support Scheme in 2013 a placement list will be in operation to respond to the need for residential care.
  • Allocation for disability services will be reduced by 1.2%.
  • €35m allocated to mental health services.  The €35m allocated for mental health services in 2012 was not spend and the planned developments for 2012 will now take place in 2013.

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