The latest cut is the deepest

Health budget

Health Minister James Reilly has come under fire for announcing an increase to the level of planned health service cuts that is considerably higher than previously indicated.

The €1.5 billion in cuts up to 2014 would mean the cumulative reduction in the health budget between 2009 and 2014 would be around 20 per cent.

During the election campaign, Reilly said he was committed to achieving the targeted €1.2bn worth of cuts over four years, in line with savings projections drawn up under the previous administration.

This figure was broadly similar to the projected cuts figure outlined by Fine Gael prior to the election and, upon taking office, Reilly stated he would “do his damnedest” to ensure the figure would not increase.

However, just over six months on and the health minister announced his “putative plan” was to slash €1.5bn from the health budget in the next three years, arguing the financial situation was worse than the government had perceived.

With €1bn already cut from the HSE budget in 2011, this latest announcement will inevitably lead to concerns over the sustainability of services across the HSE.