31/07/2008

Health Budget 'Not Worth The Paper It's Printed On'

A Fine Gael TD has revealed only €70,000 of €5 million Budget for heart disease and diabetes was actually spent on upkeep of services.

According to the Fine Gael Health Spokesperson, Dr James Reilly TD, people with chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes had availed of only a small percentage of the spending set aside for them.

Dr Reilly said information he had received from the HSE showed that 98.6% of a €5 million budget for such services had been "hived off" to meet the health service’s financial pressures.

"The Minister is charged with dispersing €15 billion of taxpayers' money on the health service. However, it is increasingly puzzling what the Health Minister actually does when even her Budget statement is not worth the paper it's printed on."

According to the Minister, only four out of the five million euro 2007 budget for heart disease actually made it into the spending books, €1 million was held back by the Dept of Health and Children for this year.

Meanwhile, €1.5 million was given to cardiovascular disease, which was dispersed to the National Hospitals Office. However only €70,000 has been spent for the purpose.

The other remaining sums were held over in order to

"At the back of this are serious questions about the Minister's judgement. It is her HSE, designed by her, which is only now being obliged to get Departmental sign-off on budget re-allocations and which is in the midst of a planned re-decentralisation.

"In a new era of cutbacks, thanks to Brian Cowen's recession, it is patients and taxpayers, however, who are carrying the can for years of cost over-runs and unaccountable, centralised bureaucracy at the hands of Minister Harney."

Earlier this month, Ms Harney announced an €1.16 billion expenditure for this year, bringing the total health budget to €16.156 billion.

(DW)(BMcC)

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