HSE accused of being ‘ripped off’ by suppliers

The HSE West chairman Councillor Padraig Conneely has accused the HSE and the Department of Health of being “ripped off” over the past 10 years by being charged “top dollar” by suppliers.

Cllr Conneely made his comments at a HSE West forum meeting in Merlin Park, Galway on Tuesday where members were told the HSE West will have to provide the same level of service this year as in 2010 but with a budget reduction of five per cent.

The HSE West budget of €1.99 billion for 2011 includes a reduction of €104.1 million on the 2010 allocation.

€38.3m savings in the west area are to be achieved through procurements and contracts management (€14.3m ), logistics and inventory management (€4.6m ), a reduction in discretionary spending (€7.8m ), a reduction in payments to agency staff (€0.9m ), laboratory services (€1.1m ), and a reviewal of rents and leases (€1m ). €19.2 million will also be saved due to a reduction in the number of staff as a result of the ban on recruitment.

Other savings will come from procuring centrally provided legal services (€4.6m ) and the collection of monies from private and semi-private patients is expected to net €20.7m for the west service.

Tuesday’s meeting was also told that the service is carrying too much stock and levels will be reduced.

The moratorium on recruitment, which continues in 2011, will pose an additional difficulty in the maintenance of the level of service. Up to 420 staff have left the service in the west due to the Voluntary Early Retirement Scheme rolled out at the end of last year and in order to maintain the same level of services there will have to be a reorganisation of remaining staff using the Croke Park Agreement.

Mr John Hennessy, Regional Director of Operations, HSE West, told Cllr Conneely that “we are living in different times”. The HSE Chair was also told that a more “aggressive approach” to procurement was being adopted by the service.

Cllr Conneely replied that “aggressiveness should have applied over the past 10 years”.

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