Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health Billy Kelleher has again expressed concern about the lack of a published comprehensive contingency plan from the HSE or the Minister for Health James Reilly detailing how the large-scale retirements from the health service in two weeks will be managed.

“Hundreds of employees in the health service will leave in just 15 days time and the only thing we have is the Minister’s word and that of the HSE that they have a plan to deal with it.

“The HSE Regional Service plan for the Dublin/North East region states that, ‘Against the backdrop of reduced budgets and reduced staffing resources, the critical impediment to the safe delivery of services in DNE in 2012 is the availability of adequate numbers of appropriate staff. A robust workforce plan is critical to maximise and mobilise staff to deliver the objectives of this regional service plan.’

“This means that without an appropriate safety net of frontline workers, services to the public will be affected.  The regional budget is being reduced by more than 6% which will see the loss of 961 posts.  The service plan says it may need to cut 100 acute hospital beds to tackle costs but there is no information how these closures would be managed or where they would take place.

“Again there is going to be a significant impact on community hospitals with up to 180 beds facing closure this year in the Dublin/North East region alone.  At the moment two public residential units, St. Joseph’s in Ardee and The Cottage Hospital, Drogheda – with a total of 54 beds – being considered for closure. This is about effective management and the Minister must lead this.

“It is the management of the retirements that is at issue here and how frontline services will be protected.  The Government has promised a contingency plan and the Minister for Health says the HSE does have a plan.  It is not enough though to state that there is plan in place and refuse to publish it.  This is about reassuring the public and on this the Government is failing miserably.”