HSE to cut 4,000 staff

The Health Service Executive aims to cut 4,000 staff this year as part of its plans to make savings of €721m, it was announced today.

The HSE said that it will be impossible to avoid cuts to frontline services due to significantly reduced staff numbers.

The National Service Plan for 2013, approved by Minister for Health Dr James Reilly, revealed that it is also facing increased costs of €748m this year due to increased demand for medical cards and drugs, among others.

Some €323m will be cut from primary care schemes, while the HSE plans to make savings of €106m in pay and flexibility, under the Croke Park Deal.

It is also aiming to make further savings in pay of €150m.

The Executive has also set out targets to cut waiting times in elective procedures and appointments.

The plan HSE National Service Plan 2013 was developed in the context of Government policy documents; ‘Future Health. A Strategic Framework for Reform of the Health service 2012-2015’ and the ‘Department of Health Statement of Strategy 2011 – 2014’.

It was drawn up under new leadership in the HSE with the new Director General Designate of the HSE, Mr Tony O’Brien, directing the HSE team.

According to the Department of Health, it has also involved a new approach to the setting of budgets based on actual activity levels during the course of 2012.

Minister Reilly said: “The lesson of the last two years in health services is clear. We have the capacity to maintain safe services and to improve services even though funding levels have to fall.

“This has been achieved with better planning and greater efficiencies. None of this would have been possible without the dedication, the commitment and the hard work of the men and women working in our health services.

“I would like to express my sincere thanks and gratitude to them. 2013 will be a challenging year but our task is to cut the cost of services while at the same not cutting the level or quality of services”

“It is Government policy that the greatest protection should be given to the most vulnerable and I’m pleased to confirm that the budget levels for Home Care Packages/Home Help has been set at the 2012 level, without cuts.

“It underscores our determination to empower elderly people to stay in their homes as is their wish.”

Minister Reilly said that he has received assurances from Mr O’Brien that he will be fast-tracking the appointment a wide range of health professionals in the areas of mental health and primary care.

From Q1 of 2013 a targeted recruitment campaign will be mounted by the HSE to fill hundreds of posts in mental health and primary care.

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