17 December 2008

Doctors and Patients concerned over HSE Cuts

Health unions and patient campaign groups in Ireland have raised concerns about plans by the Health Service Executive (HSE) to review full-time Accident & Emergency (A&E) services at eight Dublin hospitals and three in Cork.

The details are contained in the executive's 2009 service plan, which has yet to be published, but has been seen by RTÉ News.

The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) says that while 24-hour accident and emergency services can not be provided at every hospital, any replacement services must be "at least as good as what currently exists".

IHCA deputy head Donal Duffy said that given the population of Dublin and the large number of patients on trolleys in A&E each day, more services rather than less were needed.
He accepted that some rationalisation of services was needed and predicted that next year would be a "very difficult one for patients".

Meanwhile the Irish Patients Association says it hopes the HSE's plan is not a resurrection of the 2003 Hanly Report. On its behalf Stephen McMahon said all those affected should be involved in consultation on such a major development.

The Labour Party has called for an immediate publication of the plan. Its health spokesperson Jan O' Sullivan said that closing full-time A&E units, particularly without providing additional resources to other units, would simply "make a bad situation worse".

The 90-page-long HSE service plan for 2009 is already approved by the Minister for Health Mary Harney (left).

Part of its projection for 2009 is the plan to "cut inpatient admissions, the average length of hospital stay, and outpatient numbers", while "increasing day case procedures".
The measures also envisage rationalising A&E services in the mid- west and the provision of 24/7 emergency services by three paediatric hospitals in Dublin.

Around € 530 million in savings is being sought in the Health Service throughout next year.

The plan will see the HSE cutting the number of management and administration grades by 3% and it must stay within a staff ceiling of 111,575 people.

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