Limerick Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins has expressed concern about significant HSE budget cuts at two Limerick hospitals.  Limerick University Hospital has seen its budget slashed by €11m this year, while the budget for St. John’s Hospital has been cut by almost €2m. 

Deputy Collins commented, “Minister Reilly has made a shambles of the health budgets for this year, and it’s the patients and staff who are suffering.  He delayed publishing the details of the HSE Service plan for months and now he’s confirmed that the health service will not achieve €108m of its €619m cuts.  Now it’s emerged, following a parliamentary question from my party colleague Billy Kelleher that substantial budget cuts for two Limerick hospitals have been approved.

“These cuts are leading to overcrowding, staff shortages and lengthy waiting times.  In short, a badly managed, badly run health service.  Earlier this year, 36 patients were waiting on trolleys in the emergency department of Limerick University Hospital, the highest number in the country that day (7th Feb).  Ambulance staff were forced to wait with patients for an average two hours because of the congestion.  Today there are 22 people on trollies at the hospital.  This is an unacceptable situation which is likely to deteriorate further once the massive budget cuts filter through.  The hospital was unable to function on its allocated budget last year and needed more than €8m in supplementary funding.  It’s ridiculous to assume that it will be able to operate properly when a further €11m has been taken from its budget.

“This is another example of Minister Reilly’s complete mismanagement of the health service.  He’s focusing on the bottom line rather than patient care, and as a result, patients in Limerick are paying the price.  His latest plan to fill gaps in nursing numbers with healthcare assistants and graduates is nothing but a cost cutting exercise that will put patients’ lives at risk.  The Minister continues to cut frontline services at the expense of staff and patients.  I have serious concerns that standards of care in our hospitals will be dramatically reduced  if more experienced nurses are replaced with newly qualified graduates, which are being brought in on dramatically lower wages”,  Deputy Collins added.

“These reductions in the budgets of Limerick University Hospital and St. John’s Hospital are the result of the Minister’s inability to do his job properly.  Thousands of patients will suffer because of his complete mismanagement of the health service and these latest confirmed budget cuts will exacerbate and already grave situation”.