Belfast Telegraph

Patient services 'targeted in cuts'

The Government has been accused of targeting patients' services for cuts as health chiefs revealed 683 million euro in savings next year.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) said its services will be chopped on average by around 7%, but cuts to mental health and disability services will be capped at 1.8%.

Jan O'Sullivan, Labour's health spokeswoman, said the plan will see significant cuts to services already at breaking point.

"There is much detail in this plan which will need to be looked at closely, and I am concerned that there may be further cuts, over and above the 683 million euro, hidden away within the small print," Ms O'Sullivan said.

"The Labour Party accepts that savings have to be effected in the health budget, as in every other area, but it seems that the Government has chosen once again to target services for patients when there were other options for savings."

Ms O'Sullivan said more could have been done to secure cuts in professional fees, through the greater use of generic drugs, and by charging the full cost of private beds in public hospitals.

Under the savings plan hospital in-patient admissions will be cut by 2%, while day case treatments will increase by 3%.

Cathal Magee, HSE chief executive, said it would be difficult to operate within the funding and staffing constraints in a way that minimises disruption to services.

"This service plan can only be delivered through the collective efforts of the health and social care professionals from all of our care disciplines and services," he said.

"With the funding and employment constraints, including the impact of the recent exit programme on management and administrative resources, our services are now more than ever dependent on our people to continue to make the extra effort for our patients and clients."

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