CONSULTANT obstetrician and gynaecologist at the Mid-Western Regional Maternity Hospital Dr Gerry Burke has “warmly welcomed” a budget increase of €24.6 million for the Mid-West hospital group for 2013.
The figure represents a budget increase of 11.5% for the group, which includes the Maternity, the Regional and Croom hospitals, for 2013.
Dr Burke, who this week completed his term as chairman of the Labour Party’s constituency council for Limerick city, said that the allocation would help to address a situation that has led to a “geographical health inequality” between the Mid-West and national health resources.
“The Mid-West region, and especially Limerick city, has the worst health outcomes in Ireland, including the highest standardised mortality rates and infant mortality rates,” he said.
“It has been contended by health care providers and some politicians in Limerick that the local hospitals were not receiving a fair share of the national health spend and this was contributing to overcrowding at the main hospital and excessive mortality in the region.
“The additional allocation addresses the disparity and it is a vindication for the many medical, nursing and senior management staff who have campaigned for this for many years. Most importantly, this is a recognition that geographical health inequality is a reality and that it can only be addressed by distributing resources fairly.”
Other hospitals around the country are set to see their budgets slashed, particularly St James’s Hospital in Dublin, which is to lose 3.4% from its budget, equating to around €9m.
A HSE spokesman in Limerick confirmed the 11.5% increase for the hospital group in 2013, but said that the HSE would not be commenting further as “details of the 2013 Service Plan are still being finalised”.
The HSE head office released a statement outlining that, for the first time, budget allocations for 2013 would be based on projected spend rather than on historic budgets, with a view to ensuring sustainable budgets into the future.
The HSE said it was “seeking to rebalance budget allocations to provide hospitals with budgets that are achievable”.
“This is a step on a longer term journey towards a more balanced funding regime across our hospitals and one where structural deficits are addressed,” it added.