HSE in pledge not to close beds at Limerick Regional as deficit rises to €14 million

Mike Dwane

Reporter:

Mike Dwane

THE HSE does not anticipate having to close additional beds and theatres at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital - in spite of the deficit that had reached almost €14 million by the end of July.

THE HSE does not anticipate having to close additional beds and theatres at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital - in spite of the deficit that had reached almost €14 million by the end of July.

Figures published by the HSE last week show that each of the four major hospitals in Limerick has significantly over-run its budget.

The deficit in Dooradoyle as of July 31 stood at €14.6 million.

At the Mid-Western Regional Maternity Hospital the overspend was €2.6 million; €2.1 million at St John’s and €725,000 at the Mid-Western Regional Orthopaedic Hospital in Croom.

Of the country’s major acute hospitals, the hole in the finances of Limerick Regional is second only to Beaumont Hospital in absolute terms. But it has by far the worst deficit in the country in percentage terms, having overshot its budget by over 18% by the end of July.

Last year, the HSE closed beds and theatres in Dooradoyle as part of its efforts to balance the books. Attempting to manage services with less money this year, it said it would be focusing on payroll and other measures to cut costs this year.

“The Mid-Western Acute Hospitals Group does not propose to close any additional beds or theatres following the recent announcement of a €130 million reduction in health spending ordered by the government by the end of 2012,” a spokesperson for the HSE told the Limerick Leader.

“The group will be making reductions in hospital spending in the Mid-West through a range of measures including the reduction of agency and overtime across all grades of staff.”

The Government has reversed earlier proposals to cut personal assistants and other supports for the disabled.

Minister for Health Dr James Reilly hopes to instead achieve savings through cutting the overtime and agency staff bills; reducing the cost of drugs to HSE hospitals; cutting back on the purchase of equipment and through better cash management.

Also among the initiatives is ensuring that hospitals are paid more promptly by insurers for work done.

Clare county councillor Brian Meaney, a member of the HSE West Forum, was earlier this month critical of consultants working in Limerick for failing to complete the paperwork in time.

Members of the forum, Cllr Meaney said, had been told the Regional Hospital was owed €5.3 million because consultants had not signed documentation which would clear payments from health insurers.

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