Tuesday 20 March 2018

Kenny backing Reilly over health cuts

Fiach Kelly

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has again expressed his confidence in Health Minister James Reilly after four hospital chiefs said health cuts will seriously affect patient services.

Mr Kenny also said hospital budgets had increased by 3pc, and warned: "Hospital managers are expected to manage affairs in the hospitals for which they have responsibility, based on those figures."

Mr Kenny also said Dr Reilly had his support, and has one of the most difficult jobs in government.

The chief executives of four of Ireland's largest hospitals wrote to HSE Director General Tony O'Brien warning that cuts in funding have begun to seriously threaten the quality and safety of patient services.

Dr Reilly's spokesman has claimed the letter is a matter for the HSE, but Sinn Fein's Mary-Lou McDonald said this is not a tenable position.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin also told the Dail "that services in our acute hospitals and patient safety are now being compromised as a result of budgetary policy".

But the Taoiseach said Dr Reilly had to wait for the HSE to produce its service plan, which will detail how it will cope with the cuts. This is due to be completed by November 15.

"This is not an easy job. Minister Reilly has one of the most difficult jobs of any minister," Mr Kenny said. "He is changing the structure of the costs of delivering health services, not the services themselves."

"I fully expect that the request of the four chief executives for constructive engagement with hospitals in the determination of the HSE plan to be presented to the Minister will be granted. That is a fair request. If they were to write their letters any other way, one would say everything was to their satisfaction."

Irish Independent

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