HomeNewsHospital funding hit by budget overrun

Hospital funding hit by budget overrun


Health Minister Leo Varadkar
Health Minister Leo Varadkar

by Kathy Masterson


HEALTH Minister Leo Varadkar has said that University Hospital Limerick (UHL) “will be further down the list for receiving additional funding and capital” as it is already €17 million over budget.

The Minister made the remarks during a debate in the Dáil last week in which Limerick Fine Gael TD Kieran O’Donnell suggested providing “an interim solution with the provision of a 20 to 30-bed unit” to alleviate waiting times in the accident and emergency department at UHL.

“While the HSE will consider interim solutions in the meantime, interim beds cost interim money, and a hospital group that is running so far over budget will be further down the list for receiving additional funding and capital than those that are running on budget,” Minister Varadkar replied.

“Increasingly we will pursue a policy of rewarding those who come in on budget, not those who overrun,” he declared.

The Fine Gael Minister added that it was “of concern” that the hospital group was 16 per cent over budget.

“It is more over budget than any hospital group in the country. Spending is up, not down, and while one might be able to justify higher spending if we were seeing shorter waiting lists and fewer people on trolleys, it is very disturbing to see a hospital group with an increasing budget overrunning its budget but not achieving the goals that patients would expect.”

Deputy O’Donnell and Clare Fine Gael TD Pat Breen both raised concerns during the Dáil debate about the high number of people waiting on trolleys in the UHL accident and emergency department.

However, they acknowledged that the numbers have improved in recent days since the reopening of 20 beds in St John’s Hospital that had been closed due to a virus.

Minister Varadkar explained that a number of initiatives are in place to alleviate the pressure on the accident and emergency department until the new emergency department opens at UHL in 2016.

These measures include: a dedicated paediatric emergency area, a new critical care unit for seriously ill or injured patients, acute medical and surgical assessment units, and a 17-bed short stay unit.

He added that the HSE special delivery unit “indicates a requirement for additional bed capacity at UHL” and the hospital and the HSE are in discussions about increasing capacity.

However, Minister Varadkar warned that the process “must take account of the financial constraints facing the hospital and the HSE’s budgetary limitations next year”.

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