| 13.8°C Dublin

Hospitals warn cuts will hurt cancer patients

BOSSES at four Dublin hospitals have warned the Health Service Executive that funding cuts could "seriously threaten" patient services.

In a letter to HSE Director General Tony O'Brien, the hospital chiefs say future budget reductions could have long-term effects – particularly for cancer patients.

The correspondence was sent on Monday by the CEOs of four Dublin facilities – the Mater, St James's, Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin and Tallaght Hospital.

The bosses claim to have clear evidence that cuts, combined with accelerated demand, have begun to "seriously threaten the quality and safety of patient services".

They also reported the "recent emergence of unacceptable delays in treatment access for certain cancer patients due to overwhelming pressures on services".

And they warn that "short-sighted random application of budgetary reductions" threaten to damage the system which is already struggling in the wake of combined cuts of €206m over the past five Budgets.



The Irish Patients Association described the letter as "alarming" and "unprecedented".

And CEO Steve McMahon today urged Health Minister James Reilly and the Government to pay "serious attention" to its contents.

Mr McMahon told the Herald: "I can't remember ever been made aware of such a letter being sent to the HSE .

"For the hundreds of thousands of patients who face being affected by cuts, their fears need to be allayed.

"Minister Reilly and the Government need to take note of this letter and its highly concerning contents."

Dr Reilly has not commented on the contents of the letter, saying it was addressed to the HSE and not his office.

The HSE said it would be "inappropriate" to make a statement but the claims are sounding warning bells given the €666m in health savings the minister must deliver next year.

Meanwhile, the HSE has just nine days to complete its 2014 service plan, which must detail how €666m savings can be achieved.

It is expected to request a bailout by the end of the year, with speculation mounting that it could seek as much as €200m.