Press Release

Statement by Minister for Health & Children, Mary Harney, T.D. on her approval of the HSE National Service Plan 2009,16 December, 2008

The Minister for Health & Children Mary Harney, T.D. approved the HSE National Service Plan 2009 on Tuesday, 9 December 2008 under Section 31(8) of the Health Act, 2004.

The Minister said: “Following the publication of the Budget, I wrote to the Chairman of the HSE outlining my requirements for the National Service Plan 2009.

I made it clear that my priorities are to avoid service reductions, to protect the least well off and to continue the overall reform programme.

The Service Plan has been improved this year. There will be greater integration between funding, staffing and services. This means we will know exactly the services we can expect to get for the funding we provide and how many people we actually need to deliver them.

The Plan also sets out more activity measures, performance indicators and deliverables in key service areas, and these are matched with timescales.

In approving the Plan, I highlighted to the HSE certain critical performance issues in overseeing its implementation, for example, the need to ensure that all colonoscopies are undertaken within clinically appropriate timeframes and in particular that urgent cases are undertaken within one month of referral.

I also emphasised the necessity for the HSE to operate within the limits of its budget in delivering, at a minimum, the levels of service which are provided for in the Plan.”

In broad terms, the Plan outlines that the HSE will deliver the same activity in 2009 as in 2008. In order to deliver the level of services it is committing to, the HSE will be reconfiguring many front line services.

This is in keeping with the overall strategic direction as set out in the HSE Corporate Plan 2008 – 2011. It includes a conversion of in-patient work to day case work and a focus on reducing in-patient length of stay in acute hospitals – both of which mean the same level of care for patients with reduced reliance on in-hospital care.

It also involves the provision of more services in community settings, thus reducing the dependency on in-patient beds and associated costs.

The total funding for the HSE in 2009 is €14,791m, an increase of €454m or 3.2% on the 2008 allocation. When account is taken of the long-stay repayments scheme, the increase in underlying expenditure is €580m, or 4.1%.   The 2009 allocation includes €120m to meet service pressures arising from demographic and other cost pressures and also includes €55m for the implementation of the Fair Deal Scheme, an additional €15m for the Cancer Control Programme and €10m for therapy supports for children of school going age.   The Minister said: “In the current economic climate, this funding represents a very positive development in services. In addition to continuation of 2008 savings, Value for Money savings of some €115m are targeted for next year.

Clearly, the current fiscal position demands the most careful control of public expenditure and I am strongly of the view that account needs to be taken of all emerging potential cost pressures.

In this context, I have asked the HSE to review the latest information relevant to the management of Demand Led Schemes expenditure and to formulate and submit a contingency plan to address any pressures in this area over and above those provided for in the Plan.

During 2009, the HSE will provide me with detailed information relating to service activity levels by way of monthly Performance Monitoring Reports against the Plan.”

The Plan was laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas on 10 December in line with Section 31(13) of the Health Act 2004 and the HSE has confirmed that it will publish the Plan on their website today in line with Section 31(14) of the Act.

The letter from Mary Harney T.D., Minister for Health and Children to Mr. Liam Downey Chairman, Health Service Executive, approving the HSE National Service Plan 2009 can be viewed here