Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Billy Kelleher TD has reacted with dismay and frustration to the news that nine new drugs which are both cost effective and clinically effective are not being provided because of a dispute between the HSE and the Department of Health over funding.
Deputy Kelleher said, “First of all I have to say that if the Department of Health says that the HSE has the money, then they should direct that it be spent on these drugs. Former Minister Reilly took back control of the HSE budget in 2014 – it’s no longer a separate voted Estimate as it used to be.
“If Minister Harris can’t ensure that money his department says is available can’t be spent, then the Health Service Executive (Financial Matters) Act should be scrapped.
“Now the HSE says these drugs will cost €24 million a year – or €120 million over five years. While health finances are always tight, surely there must be some flexibility within this budget to find the money?
“Surely there must be some savings arising from medical cards? The HSE projected in its service plan for 2017 that some 1,672,654 medical cards are in circulation this year. Yet figures I received yesterday showed that halfway through the year there were 1,646,569 medical cards – already 26,000 fewer than projected at year end. If the trend continues the HSE will be providing 50,000 fewer medical cards than it originally projected. Surely significant savings must arise from this – possibly as much as €50 million.
“In any case the bottom line is this. The Minister is in charge of the HSE budget and if the Department of Health says the money is there, then these drugs must be provided and the Minister must make it happen.”