Health 'bailed out' five years in a row

The health service has required a supplementary allocation to bail it out for each of the past five years, new figures reveal.

Supplementary funding has been needed to make up health deficits each year from 2008, when €345 million was provided by the Department of Health, to 2012, when €245 million extra was allocated, according to the figures.

The figures show that the amount of the yearly bail-out, in spite of the criticism the current Health Minister James Reilly has come under for failing to balance the books, was actually higher under his predecessor, Mary Harney.

In 2011 and 2012 the bail-out was €148 million and €245 million respectively.

However, on Mary Harney's watch, health required extra year-end funding of €345 million in 2008, €254 million in 2009 and €595 million in 2010.

No supplementary allocation was needed in 2007, the figures show, while in 2006, before the massive health funding cuts of recent years began, the service still needed supplementary funding of €340 million.

The figures also show that the total gross health service allocation has shrunk from just under 16 billion in 2008 to just over 14 billion this year, a drop of just over 13%.

However, in terms of funding for direct service provision, the HSE budget has been reduced by over one fifth in recent years. According to the HSE, the total reduction in its budgets between 2008 and 2013 amounts to 22%.

The figures show that the health budget in 1996 was only €3.06 billion, and it grew to €16 billion 12 years.

The health budget figures are taken from the revised Government estimates between 1996 and 2013. Figures for 2008 to 2010 include the funding for the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs.

The figures also state that numbers employed in the health service has dropped from a high of 113,000 in 2008 to 103,000 this year. These employment figures comprise HSE, voluntary hospital and voluntary bodies staff, but not Department of Health staff numbers.

The funding and staffing figures were supplied by Helth Minister James Reilly in a Dail reply to Deputy Jerry Buttimer of Fine Gael.

[Posted: Tue 24/09/2013]

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