Cuts must continue - HSE
The HSE's budget situation has eased slightly but still faces major challenges and further savings must be made, according to a new report.
The health executive's latest performance report says its overspend at the end of September was €206 million, compared to €204 million at the end of August and €223 million at the end of July.
The report says based on current expenditure rate the HSE is projecting a potential deficit of €320 million at the end of the year.
This has improved from a projection of €405 million in August but has not improved sufficiently for the HSE to break even by year end if spending is not reduced further, the report says.
It said measures were in place to address the deficit and further measures were being considered. Cuts in overtime pay have been mooted, although a proposal to cut back on medical cards is unlikely to be implemented.
In order to make savings, to date many hospitals have already closed extra beds and the HSE has imposed an almost blanket ban on hiring staff.
The report says overall deficit for the health system at the end of August was €152.9 million after taking account of the post-service plan revision by the Department of Health. The equivalent July deficit was €189.5 million, which showed that expenditure was reducing.
"There is still cause for significant concern however, given that there are only four months to the end of the year," the report says.
Hospitals were running up a combined deficit of €142.2 million at the end of August.
The Mid Western Regional Hospital in Limerick had a deficit of €14.4 million at the end of August while Tallaght Hospital's deficit was €11.3 million.
The HSE says there is a €21.8 million shortfall in hospitals' private income billing.
"This is because of some fall in the level of privately-insured individuals, use of private rooms for infection control, historically high targets and in some cases sub-optimal use of private beds," the report says.
[Posted: Sat 15/10/2011]