Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Health Billy Kelleher is warning of a further deterioration of hospital services in 2015, following confirmation of a further spending cut.  Figures published by the HSE in its operational division plans reveal that actual spending on acute hospitals will be less than €4bn – almost 1% lower than last year.

Deputy Kelleher commented, “The fallout from last year’s botched health budget is evident in almost every hospital across the country.  We have over 50,000 people waiting more than a year for outpatient appointments, procedures are being cancelled and there are critical overcrowding levels at many of the major hospitals, with Beaumont hospital in Dublin being forced to ask patients not to attend its ED last weekend because of a serious overcrowding crisis within the department.

“The HSE has admitted that its budget will not fully address the growing demands which are being placed on an already stretched hospital system.  The news that the level of spending available next year is being further reduced is extremely worrying.

“Frontline staff are being forced to work in exceptionally difficult circumstances, and have continuously expressed their concerns about patient safety.  Minister Varadkar has attempted to gloss over the overcrowding crisis, claiming earlier this week that the situation would be brought under control in a matter of days.  The latest figures from the INMO reveal that there are almost 350 people waiting on trolleys across the country – proof that the situation is not improving.

“The 2014 €680m supplementary estimate was largest in history of HSE and was a direct result of flawed funding allocations.  I have real concerns that the decision to reduce spending for acute hospitals in 2015 will result in vastly diminished services for patients.

“I am urging the Minister and the HSE not to repeat the mistakes of last year and to re-examine the funding allocation for acute hospitals.  2015 is already set to be a challenging year for our health services, but without realistic budgets for our hospitals, it will be an uphill struggle for both patients and staff to cope with the demands on resources”.