Dáil Éireann - Volume 656 - 05 June, 2008

Written Answers. - Health Services.

Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Minister for Health and Children if she is satisfied that the finance allocation to the Health Service Executive in 2008 will enable it to deliver the 2007 level of services in addition to specific service improvements; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22241/08]

Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if she is satisfied that the finance allocation to the Health Service Executive in 2008 will enable it to deliver the 2007 level of services in addition to specific service improvements; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22490/08]

[525]   Deputy Mary Harney: I propose to take Questions Nos. 22 and 77 together.

The Oireachtas has voted a budget for the HSE for 2008 from resources provided by taxpayers. This allocation is an increase of 8% on the 2007 outturn of the HSE. Allowing for various once-off factors, the underlying increase amounts to 9%. By any standard, national or international, that is a high level of increase for a national health service. Few other countries maintain such levels of increases year after year. The OECD reported recently that our rate of increase in public health spending has been second highest in the developed world in the ten years between 1995 and 2005.

There is no health system in the world that operates without implicit or explicit budget limits and benefit limits. It is also the case that every health system, including our own, needs to deliver the most effective services for given resources and to constantly improve, that is, to make value for money and efficiency gains.

The HSE has incorporated Value for Money targets within its service plan. Those who support increased efficiency in public services will fully understand and support the fact that a 1% increase in efficiency for the HSE means, in financial terms, providing the same level of services at a cost of €142m less; a 2% efficiency gain means providing the same level of services at a cost of €280m less.

The services and targets to be provided by the HSE in 2008 are set out in the National Service Plan which I approved in November, 2007 and the Addendum to the Service Plan which I approved in February, 2008. Both of these documents have been laid before this House and published.

In its Exchequer Issues return to end May the HSE is reporting an overspend against profile of €59m, excluding the long-stay repayments scheme. Based on current trends, the HSE anticipate a budgeting challenge in the order of €300m this year. My Department and I have had discussions with the HSE about these emerging budget pressures. The imperative for efficiency gains and more effective practices is all the greater in order to deliver services, consistent with Government priorities, and within the annual budget allocated by the Oireachtas and the profile of expenditure planned for each month. The HSE is now considering the steps it should take in this regard.