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Leo seeking a €680m bailout for HSE budget

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Leo Varadkar

Leo Varadkar

Leo Varadkar

BAILOUTS totalling almost €1.2bn are being sought across five Government departments, it has emerged.

Over half of the money is to go to the area of health in order to deal with the huge hole in the finances of the Health Service Executive (HSE).

The Department of Public Expenditure confirmed that the Department of Health is seeking a staggering €680m - representing €170m more than originally planned.

A spokesman for Health Minister Leo Varadkar told the Herald that additional money is required for areas such as primary care and costs related to the State Claims Agency.

But some €510m allocated in next year's bailout will be used to cover HSE salaries and other expenses.

The huge sum illustrates the grave challenge facing Mr Varadkar in bringing the spiralling health spending under control.

The Dublin West TD warned last week that there will be no future bailout of the health service next year and any overspend will have to come out of the following year's budget.

In a statement, Mr Varadkar's spokesman said: "A supplementary budget of €680m has been sought by the Department of Health for 2014.

"This includes €510m for the HSE deficit which reflects increased levels of activity such as more demand for bed days, more emergency admissions, greater demand for community supports and services, and more elderly, complex patients."

But the bailout in health also applies to other departments.

It's been confirmed that the Department of Agriculture is seeking an additional €177m, while the Department of Transport is to receive a further €162m.

A spokeswoman for Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe said he will be bringing the reasons for the supplementary budget to the Oireachtas Committee for Transport and Communications next week.

The Department of Education has been approved additional funding of €102m, while €35m will be paid over to the Department of the Environment.

Pressure

However, Mr Varadkar is to come under major pressure over the additional sum he is seeking on behalf of the HSE.

Last night, Fianna Fail's Health spokesperson Billy Kelleher said the figure being sought is "quite surprising".

"The Minister for Health only a few months ago said the figure would be just north of €500m. We now find that it is almost €700m over budget.

"This stems from the fact that last year's budget was completely bogus, it was built on false foundations, false calculations and it was clearly evident that it was never going to be sustainable."

noconnor@herald.ie


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