HSE's €170m cash shortfall leads to recruitment freeze
THE recruitment of hospital doctors, speech and language therapists, as well as some social workers, is expected to be virtually frozen for the rest of the year as the health service faces a €170m cash crisis.
Although essential frontline staff had been exempted from the public sector moratorium on recruitment, the HSE has indicated that they will now become part of a new clampdown.
It follows disclosure by the HSE that it has over-spent by €170m to the end of May, with hospitals €120m in the red.
Patients will feel the brunt of harsh cuts in the coming months.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny yesterday blamed hospital managers for what he described as their "incompetence and mismanagement".
He added: "It comes back to the point, which we have been saying for years, that you need a system where money follows the patient and hospitals are paid for what they do.
"The Minister for Health (James Reilly) has already made it clear that there is no more money to be allocated because there is none available."
The cuts, described by the HSE as a "pause in recruitment in all but critical vacancies", will also affect emergency medical technicians -- highly trained ambulance staff required for the further rollout of changes to small hospitals whose A&E services are to be removed.
More bed and theatre closures are also inevitable.
The HSE report showed that the numbers of patients waiting more than three months for treatment rose to 25,730, an increase of 1,551 since April.
The Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Limerick is the worst-hit, with an over-run of more than €14m, but others are also struggling.
The other hospitals which have overspent and will have to claw back budgets include: University College Hospital Galway (€8.6m); Tallaght Hospital in Dublin (€7.5m); Cork University Hospital (€7.1m); St Vincent's in Dublin (€6.2m); Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda (€5.6m); Beaumont in Dublin (€5.3m) and Waterford Regional (€5.3m).