Wednesday 20 September 2017

Reilly 'astonished' as just 10pc of HSE bosses have financial training

Greg Harkin

HEALTH Minister James Reilly has admitted he was "astonished" to learn that just 10pc of managers in the HSE had any financial training.

And Dr Reilly insisted that he is focused on accounting for every cent spent on health care.

"We are addressing that deficit and there is going to be real change this year. There is going to be real control of money," he said.

"Funding is always going to be an issue in the HSE. We have brought in new accountants and financial managers to address the deficit that clearly was there," said the minister.

He was speaking in Donegal where he opened a new €24m emergency department and medical block at Letterkenny General Hospital.

Dr Reilly was called to respond to concerns raised this week by the Dail's Public Accounts Committee that the financial controls of the HSE were based on old practices from the previous health boards and were "no longer fit for purpose".

TDs also found that the HSE has failed to collect money it is owed by insurance companies and others at a time when it is under severe financial pressure.

Just six anti-austerity protesters picketed the hospital during the minister's visit.

But a health service campaigner did make it into the Emergency Department waiting area for the official opening. Betty Holmes, from Donegal Action for Cancer Care, handed a letter to the minister criticising staffing levels in hospitals.

Ms Holmes later told the Irish Independent: "This is a fantastic new facility for the people of Donegal but because of the recruitment ban we need more staff to run it."

Dr Reilly also revealed that cross-border co-operation on health care would increase with discussions continuing with both Altnagelvin, in Derry, and the new Enniskillen Hospital in Fermanagh.

This would also include a joint air ambulance and community health-care service between Strabane, in Tyrone, and Lifford, in Donegal.

Irish Independent

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