Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health Billy Kelleher has called for a special hearing of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health to be convened to discuss the budget crisis facing the health service.
Deputy Kelleher said: “The Taoiseach and the Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin should join Minister Reilly at a special health committee meeting on this latest budget chaos. Hospitals are due to submit new cost-containment plans this week to tackle a projected €500m budget overrun and the latest efforts to get James Reilly’s shambolic health budget back in line should not be done behind closed doors.
“If frontline services face another round of serious cuts at the hands of Minister Reilly then the public has the right to know. This week I pointed out that I am genuinely concerned that a large number of beds and possibly whole wards could be closed over the summer to save money. The Irish Association for Emergency Medicine has also warned that some A&E departments face the possibility of having to close, describing staffing shortages and budget cuts as a ‘perfect storm’ facing many emergency departments.
“I have written today to the Chairman of the Oireachtas Health Committee Jerry Buttimer to seek a full committee hearing on the budget crisis. Unlike previous years the Taoiseach and the Public Expenditure Minister have stepped in to take a role in crafting, managing and executing the health budget. They should face the committee alongside Minister Reilly to answer for the projected budget overrun and outline how this will be addressed while restoring discretionary medical cards, rolling out free GP care for children under 6 and maintaining essential frontline and emergency care.
“I have made it clear for some time that Fianna Fáil has no faith in Minister Reilly’s ability to manage his budget and deliver the health services the people need. The Taoiseach’s decision to take a role in managing the budget reinforces that view and he now has to take responsibility for this chaotic budget situation facing hospitals across the country.”