Spokesperson on Health Billy Kelleher has commented: “The 2013 HSE Service Plan published today is significantly less substantial than that published last year – with less than half the detail what was in the 2012 plan.  Clearly the Minister and the HSE are hedging their bets in the wake of the disastrous budget management in 2012.”

Deputy Kelleher has written to the Chairman of the Oireachtas Health Committee, Jerry Buttimer TD, calling for early committee hearing to deal specifically with the HSE Service Plan for 2013.

Deputy Kelleher said: “The reality is the health service is hobbled from the outset this year as a direct result of Minister Reilly’s failure to manage his budget last year.  The €270m overrun in our hospitals in 2012 being carried over is going to put enormous pressure on hospital managers to further reduce costs without reducing services.  The plan is high on aspiration to maintain services at 2012 levels but it is also high on get-out clauses, with 11 downside risks specifically identified.  However there is no indication of what will happen should they materialise.

“There are plans for a reduction of 40,000 medical cards in 2013 and a further reduction in staff of almost 4,000.  The HSE, by its own admission, would ideally have a contingency fund put aside to deal with emerging issues and emergencies through the year but the Minister’s own dysfunctional approach has not made this possible.

“Minister Reilly has said ‘2013 will be a challenging year but our task is to cut the cost of services while at the same not cutting the level or quality of services’.  Who is he kidding?  He singularly failed to achieve this in 2012 and had to come back for more when he callously cut personal assistance support and home help hours.  Front line and community services were not protected by Fine Gael and Labour last year and people are rightly concerned that they face a further attack again this year.

“Usually with these plans the devil is in the detail. But in Minister Reilly’s case the devil is often in the delivery.”