Harney refuses to give exact figure on HSE cuts

Seven days ago at the ESRI conference on resource allocation in the health sector, Mary Harney said that the HSE is facing cuts 'between €600,000 and one billion'.

I asked Mary Harney would the cuts be higher than €600,000, she said she did not want to speculate, but €600,000 would certainly be a minimum figure. I asked will it be up to one billion – she said 'I am not certain it will be that high, it will be somewhere between €600k and one billion'.

Ideas for a better Ireland

Four out of five people are dissatisfied with the government according to the most recent political polls. Not surprising given the fiasco that the current government has got us into. Most reasonable people believe that the politicians, who got us into this mess, cannot and will not get us out of it. And each day new figures emerging about our dire economic circumstances back up that gut instinct of the Irish population.

This lethal combination of bad fiscal and policy choices has brought us to a critical moment in Irish social, economic and political life.

No justification for millions in 'unorthodox' fund

On 7 October 2010, HSE chief Cathal McGee (pictured) had his first outing to the Oireachtas in his new role as CEO. Appearing before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) alongside officials from the departments of health and finance, a catalogue of bad governance, bad accounting and no transparency was revealed for money allocated to the controversial SKILL programme.

€50 million HSE West cuts...

How is it after six years of Mary Harney as health minister and so called 'reform',  the HSE West is scrambling around for €50 million of cuts? By Sara Burke. 

Mary Harney came into the Department of Health in September 2004 just as the health boards were abolished and the HSE was set up. The rationale for establishing the HSE was to remove political influence and provide unified, quality health and social care across the country.

Reconfiguration can be good for our health

To reconfigure or not – that is the question. "Reconfiguration" is HSE-speak for changing the roles of local hospitals or closing down certain hospital services. By Sara Burke.

The reconfiguration quandary is not a new one. In 1936, 1968 and 2003, government-commissioned reports recommended the rationalising of hospitals, as there were too many hospitals providing poor quality care to too few people.

Patient safety going in the right direction

On 23 September last, the great and the good of Irish healthcare gathered to launch a new Patient Safety First initiative. Is this another puff launch or can it make a real difference to safe patient care? By Sara Burke.

First let's look at our very poor track record in patient safety. High profile cases that come to mind are:

Rude Health II: Pay for health, not sickness

Why does the Irish health system incentivise sickness rather than well-being? In ancient China, people used to pay doctors for their health, not their sickness, or so the yarn goes. Does it make sense to reward doctors for the treatment of the sick? Should keeping people well not be the main incentive in any health system? By Sara Burke.

This is the foundation of public health: healthy citizens make up better societies and there are individual, collective and societal measures that can make people live longer, better, healthier lives.

€40m spent on agency nurses last year, €30m so far this year

The Comptroller and Auditor General's report, released on 15 September, devoted over a hundred pages to scrutinising how specific monies have been spent on health. In particular, it highlighted €44 million the HSE spent on agency staff in 2009. By Sara Burke.

Figures obtained by me today show that so far this year just another €30 million has been spent on nursing agency staff. Clearly this is not the best use of public money.

HSE progress is slow, but more patients are not waiting longer

It's a new term for the HSE, with a brand new CEO, a new chairman of the board and a new progress report. On 9 September, they published their first figures for this year on their own performance. There is some good news, some bad, overall their own figures demonstrate progress is slow. By Sara Burke.

Today the numbers of public patients waiting for hospital care hit the headlines.