The supplementary estimate announced by Health Minister Leo Varadkar today is 10% greater than what was signalled in the October Budget.  It also comes in the wake of the Minister’s announcing a €635 million increase in health expenditure in 2015.

By comparison the €680 million supplementary budget arising in 2014 from Minister Reilly’s final health budget followed a planned cut of €272m in the health services budget in 2014.

Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Billy Kelleher commented: “The Minister kicks off his statement today by saying that the Cabinet has signed off on the supplementary to cover extra services provided this year such as free GP care for the under sixes and over 70s, and the Winter Initiative to tackle ED overcrowding, in addition to once-off costs.

“This is somewhat misleading as those services for the Waiting List Initiative, Emergency Department Overcrowding and Delayed Discharges Winter Initiative amount to just €143 million extra according to figures provided to me by the Minister last October.

“The Minister also told me during the year that there was “no additional cost” for extending GP services for persons aged 70. He also said at the time that the full year cost of the under 6’s scheme would be €67 m, so on that basis the scheme is costing €33.5 m in 2015.  In any case the 2015 HSE Service Plan allocated €25 million for the under 6’s scheme, so really just €8.5 can be considered supplementary to what was announced last December.

“So €151.5 million or less than a quarter of the supplementary is for new services.  There’s another €510 million plus yet to be explained.

“It has to be said while the Minister is lavish with the spin, he is very sparse with the detail in today’s announcement and we may have to wait until he comes before the Oireachtas Select Committee on Health next week before we get the full story.

“One thing is clear after five years of bogus budgets that the health service has been extremely badly served by Fine Gael and Labour.  Far from being a new broom at the Department of Health, one can credibly argue that Minister Varadkar’s tenure is shaping up to be worse than Minister Reilly’s.”