Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health Billy Kelleher has said health service bosses are sending an important warning to government about the need for a realistic budget for frontline services and new staff next year.

The HSE is said to be seeking close to €2bn in extra funding for 2016.

Deputy Kelleher has said “the health service has suffered hugely in recent years because of unrealistic budgets, unreachable targets and political mismanagement.”

“This year we were told when Minister Varadkar secured increased funding that the 2015 budget was the first realistic budget in years.  There was a real expectation that the financial turmoil in the system was finally being brought under control.  Now we find once again the health budget is in chaos and will overrun by half a billion euro this year.

“To support existing services and staff health bosses say they’ll need an extra €660m in 2016 so if we’re to move forward in any way the health budget for next year will need to increase by more €1.2bn.  The HSE is reported to be seeking closer to €1.9bn from the government for next year.  This would be a substantial increase but it may finally but the health service in a stable position.

“The health service needs a credible budget for 2016.  For a number of years now the HSE has started the year with a plan everyone knew would not get them to year’s end.  What happens then is that important services, usually at this point in the year, are restricted, operations and procedures are pushed out and patients are left waiting longer for care.  We know there are major pressures on the health service and that more investment in community care and services for older people are badly needed.

“We need to bring an element of realism to the HSE funding for 2016.  Frontline workers have been doing great work in intolerable conditions, they need to some relief and additional staff need to be provided.  The HSE needs to get to a position where it is not responding in a kneejerk way to a fresh budget crisis every year so that more strategic planning can be done to cope with demographic changes.

“The utter political mismanagement of the health services for the last four years means the health budget has significant legacy issues to resolve.  Longer waiting lists, fewer staff, bogus budgets and unrealistic targets have undermined the health service to the point where people are actually worried about needing access to services for themselves or family members.  Ensuring there is a credible, common sense budget alongside a comprehensive service plan that is achievable would go a long way to restoring public confidence.”