Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Public Expenditure & Reform Dara Calleary says Minister Paschal Donohoe must outline where the Government plans to find the money to pay for consultants contracts and what impact this will have on the overall health budget.

Deputy Calleary was responding to the Government’s decision to drop the appeal against a pay award for two doctors, the cost of which could have implications for hundreds of other consultants. Some estimates say the figure could reach €700m.

“I have serious concerns about what implications the Government’s decision to withdraw the appeal will have on the State’s finances. Over the past few weeks Minister Donohoe has committed to an extension to the terms of the Lansdowne Road Agreement at a cost of €120m as well as the €25m from the Garda settlement just before Christmas. Now the State could be facing an additional pay-out of between €350m and €700m as a potential consequence of the withdrawal of these two appeals”, said Deputy Calleary.

“Despite being questioned about it in the Dáil this week, Minister Donohoe failed to outline a comprehensive strategy to deal with this issue, where this money will come from, and if it will have an impact on the budget for health this year and in to the future.

“In relation to the extension of Lansdowne Road, the Minister talks about outlining “a process whereby throughout the year I will identify this funding”, however he has failed to do so to date.

“The health sector is already in crisis and a bill of more than €350m will have a serious impact on services. The absence of the Health Minister this week is also a cause for concern. Minister Simon Harris has remained silent on the issue, despite the financial impact that the HSE’s decision to drop the appeal will have on the health service.

“It is vitally important that Ministers Donohoe and Harris explain how they plan to fund these contracts so that the public can have confidence that services will not be reduced and that there is a strategy in place to pay for these agreements”.