Wednesday 21 February 2018

'I expect health to come in on budget for this year' - Public Expenditure Minister

Paschal Donohoe Picture: Collins
Paschal Donohoe Picture: Collins
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe has insisted he expects the Department of Health’s spending to come in on budget this year.

Mr Donohoe said he has made it clear to health chiefs he does not want to hear demands for more funding after he made an additional €500m available earlier this year.

Speaking before the Budget Oversight Committee, Mr Donohoe said he is in daily contact with Health Minister Simon Harris about funding requirements in the health service.

“There are few of us who can offer guarantees on anything but I have been absolutely clear that I expect the health budget to come in on budget for this year,” he said

“I am requiting that the figures I have laid down are met. It’s an expectation that has been sent on to those running our hospitals and all others involved in spending money in our health service,” he added.

The minister also said he is continually reviewing how the HSE and hospital groups spend funding to ensure high quality services are being delivered and the taxpayer is getting value for money.

Fianna Fáil’s public expenditure and reform spokesman Dara Calleary asked the minister if his Cabinet colleagues are aware they can no longer rely on the “emergency parachute” of supplementary budget estimates.

The Department of Health receives additional budget funding annually due to the rising demands on the health service.

Mr Donohoe said there is a realisation within Government that ministers do not have the “flexibility” they had in previous years.

The minister also said he is working with the EU Commission to establish what capital projects can be kept off balance sheet to free up funding for other areas of investment.

In his opening address, Mr Donohoe said day-to-day spending on public services will increase by €1.7bn to €57.5bn next year.

He said Budget 2017 will be aimed at ensuring “public services can be delivered in a sustainable manner that is compatible”.

“As well as focusing on the enhancements to services brought about by incremental increases, I am also focused on assessing how effectively and efficiently we are delivering existing services,” he added.

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