THE REGIONAL Service Plan sets out the type and volume of service the HSE Dublin North East will provide during 2012 and is consistent with national policies, frameworks, performance targets, standards and resources.
It acknowledges 'challenges' faced by the health services this year in terms of reduced staffing levels and a reduced budget, combined with an increasing demand for services, and outlines the actions being taken across the region to address these challenges.
A statement released with the report said 'a significant effort has been made to ensure that cost reduction measures are implemented in a way which minimises the impact on front line services at local and regional level'.
'In all our deliberations we have strived to ensure that those most vulnerable are protected in so far as possible,' it stated.
'The key priorities for HSE Dublin North East in 2012 are to:
Deliver the maximum level of safe services possible within allocated resources;
Deliver the cost reductions needed to achieve a balanced budget in 2012;
Implement reform programmes including the HSE National Clinical Care Programmes; Implement key elements of the Programme for Government particularly in children and families, mental health, primary care and acute hospitals.'
However, commenting on the plan, Louth County Councillor and Chair of the Save Our Hospital Services Committee in Dundalk, Tomás Sharkey urged people to read the small print of this report, which contains the most criticial details for Louth.
'Not only does the HSE Regional Services Plan 2012 have huge consequences for staffing and overall service provision, some of the small print gives huge cause for concern, for example:
'Page 17: Envisages fewer catering units to serve hospital and residential settings
'Page 19: Admits that temporary staff are unavailable due to the introduction of contracts with agencies and this causes a risk to patient care.
'Pages 29/29: Admits that targets to vaccination young babies were not met in 2011.
'Page 30: Admits that targets were not met in the developmental screening of babies in Louth.
'Page 40: Admits ' we need to reduce capacity' (clinics/theatre sessions/ beds etc.)
'Page 59: Admits that in 2012 there will be a 40 per cent cut in new Home Care packages.
'Page 76: Admits that in Louth in 2012 there will be a cut of 1,200 bed nights in respite for persons with intellectual disabilities.
'I am encouraging the public to read this up to now secret document on the louthhospital.com website and make their own observations. Remember, this Plan has been viewed and agreed by Minister James Reilly.'
For 2012, the HSE DNE region has an overall budget allocation of €1,755m and a staffing level (direct and indirect funded) of 20,453 whole time equivalents (WTES).
The 2012 budget requires a cost reduction of €120.55m (6.2 per cent). Between 2009 and 2012 funding for the DNE Region has reduced by €493.5m.
Stephen Mulvany, Regional Director of Operations HSE Dublin North East said: 'The impact on reducing costs is significant and we cannot continue to provide services in the way we have done to date and therefore, the continuing resource reductions provide us with both a challenge and indeed, an opportunity to significantly change how we provide services in order to sustain the maximum amount of safe services.
'We will use the opportunities presented by the National Clinical Programmes to assist us to achieve further efficiencies by seeing proportionately more patients with less capacity ( staff, beds, clinics, theatre schedules etc) to further limit reductions in activity volume and access times.'