Deputy Maurice Quinlivan
A freedom of information (FOI) request, which was released to Sinn Féin, has revealed the HSE planned cuts in the areas of disabilities, care of older persons and acute hospitals, in order to just break even, according to Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan.
Responding to the information revealed by the FOI, the Limerick City TD said: “The HSE recently revealed that it had set up a budget oversight group with officials from the Departments of Health and Public Expenditure and Reform to control health spending and staffing levels in response to recent overruns.
“In response to an FOI request made by Sinn Féin for all records relating to this new oversight group, we received monthly minutes of meetings between HSE and department officials.”
Deputy Quinlivan claims the documents reveal that the Government plans to control spending by making cuts to essential services.
“At a meeting held on May 27, officials stated that there were further ‘saving actions’ required with respect to ‘disabilities, older persons and acute hospitals in order to break even’. In the FOI decision letter we were denied monthly reports that outlined what those saving measures are.
“It is clear from the documents we received that these saving measures include the ‘low hanging fruit’ of disability and older person services, such as the training allowance for school-leavers with disabilities that is due to be axed in September.”
According to Deputy Quinlivan, the documents, which were not released, were denied on dubious grounds, and point to a further erosion of the Freedom of Information Act and the public's right to know.
“The health service is funded by taxpayers. It is our right to know how this money is being spent, and to know if vital services to the vulnerable are being cut as a cost-saving exercise.
“We are appealing this decision and call on the Government to release these documents immediately in the public interest.”