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Medical cards and HSE jobs to be axed


 Minister for Health  James Reilly. Picture: Frank Mc Grath

Minister for Health James Reilly. Picture: Frank Mc Grath

Minister for Health James Reilly. Picture: Frank Mc Grath

MEDICAL cards axed, jobs cut and more generic drug use – these are just some of the cuts due to be enforced next year under the HSE spending plan.

The HSE service plan which was delivered to Health Minister James Reilly has been tasked with cutting at least €666m in spending next year. It is understood the plan queries some of the financial targets it has been given, including the €113m it is expected to save through cutting medical cards.

The HSE has been on a discovery mission to identify sufficient people who are no longer eligible for the cards, thereby slashing the cost of the scheme.

The plan also aims to shed 2,600 jobs from HSE's workforce of 100,600 by the end of the next year through natural wastage and schemes such as targeted voluntary redundancy.

But if these figures fail to measure up, the cuts will have to be found elsewhere next year, meaning the real extent of the pain won't be clear until 2014.



Other areas targeted for savings include the drugs budget, which will be mainly met through more use of generics, as well as reductions in fees to doctors and pharmacists along with the slashing of several allowances under the Haddington Road Agreement.

The service plan, based on the €13bn HSE budget, is to be scrutinised further by officials at the Department of Public Expenditure and Mr Reilly. They have almost a month to review the plan before signing off on it. The squeeze on hospital funding in 2013 has already led to a rise in waiting lists and delays in some areas for cancer treatment. Hospitals which are paying top-ups to senior managers will be under pressure to end the practice before the final allocations are decided.