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Hospitals warn cuts are threatening patient safety

THE chief executives of four major hospitals sent a letter to the HSE claiming budget cuts are threatening patients' safety, and creating unacceptable delays in cancer treatments.

The chief executives of Tallaght Hospital, St James Hospital, the Mater Hospital and Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin sent a letter to the HSE documenting the dire effects cuts are having on patient care.

In the letter, revealed by RTE's 'Prime Time', the four hospitals told how they have taken cuts of €206m over the last five budgets and are now at breaking point.

The letter states that "clear evidence that funding reductions, coupled with accelerating demand have begun to clearly threaten the quality and safety of patient services.

"This has been reflected in instances of recent emergence of unacceptable delays in treatment access for certain cancer patients due to overwhelming pressure on services.

"The consequences of these quality and safety problems place and even greater long-run financial burden on the hospital system.

"This short-sighted and random application of budgetary reductions is clearly likely to seriously damage the foundation of the system."

The letter goes on to be critical of Health Minister James Reilly's 'money follows the patient' scheme set to be rolled out next year.

The letter warned the "structure and information system are not even close to being sufficiently developed or sophisticated for it's meaningful application in 2014".

They warned that the belief such an approach will save significant money "clearly misunderstands the dynamic or hospital services and their functions".

Stephen McMahon, CEO of the Irish Patients Association, called on the Government to take the letter very seriously.

"We would hope the minister would take very seriously what these CEOs are saying."

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