HSE figures show that resources have drained away from Limerick towards Galway since the former Mid-Western Health Board was assimilated into the Galway-headquartered HSE West.
This year, the HSE has allocated €611 million to fund hospital, community and social services in Galway/Roscommon compared to €608 million in Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary. Preliminary 2011 census figures show that the population served by the HSE Mid-West integrated services area is 64,000 higher than in Galway/Roscommon.
At an Oireachtas hearing, Fine Gael’s Deputy Kieran O’Donnell asked HSE officials, including chief executive Cathal Magee, to explain why Limerick was “the poor relation” when it came to funding healthcare.
The HSE figures, seen by the Limerick Leader, shows that per capita health spending in the Mid-West in 2010 - at €2709 - was below the national average of €2830 and fell significantly short of the average spend in the HSE West (€3095), a region which stretches from Abbeyfeale to Donegal.
The statistics show that the budget allocation to the Mid-West as a percentage of the HSE West total fell by almost two per cent between 2006 and 2010. A similar pattern was played out in relation to the two largest acute hospitals in both regions - Galway University Hospital and the Mid-Western Regional in Dooradoyle. Over those five years, the allocation to the Limerick hospital compared to GUH fell by over seven per cent.
*A full version of this story was published in the print edition of Limerick Leader, dated October 22, 2011