Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson, Billy Kelleher TD says that the HSE must not be prevented from calling it as it sees it when presenting its Service Plan.

Deputy Kelleher was commenting after it emerged that the Department of Health amended the text of the 2018 HSE Service Plan to put a more positive spin on it.

“The changes made reek of a government agency being nobbled by the Taoiseach’s Strategic Communications Unit to put the best possible gloss on things.

“This is wrong. The fact is that if the Director General of the HSE thinks that it will be challenging for the health services to provide sufficient care within resources then he has a duty to inform the public accordingly.

“As I said on Friday, the HSE 2018 budget level represents an overall increase of €413m (2.9%) on the final 2017 budget with the HSE saying it faces a financial challenge within the operational service areas of approximately €346m where they have to deliver savings.

“That financial challenge amounts to 84% of the 2018 increase. There has to be grave concerns that the proposed service improvements cannot be delivered under these circumstances.

“These quite simply are the facts of the matter and the Government should not be trying to censor the HSE for pointing that out,” concluded Kelleher.