€9m cut from St James's Hospital budget

Updated: Monday, 04 Feb 2013 21:09

St James's Hospital in Dublin has suffered the largest individual cut in its budget among all hospitals for 2013, according to new figures obtained by RTÉ News.

St James's is one of the country's biggest hospitals.

Two major children's hospitals in Dublin, Crumlin and Temple Street, have also seen cuts of over 2%, under the hospital allocations issued by the Health Service Executive.

For St James's the reduction of 3.4% means a loss of €9m and a budget of €263m this year.

A spokesperson for the hospital said it wished to make "no comment" on the figures.

Health Service Executive Director General Tony O'Brien said no-one had lobbied him on funding for hospitals this year.

Speaking on RTÉ's Six One News, Mr O'Brien said if no change had been made to the system, all hospitals would have faced cuts of 3.5%.

He said the new system would give all hospitals a fighting chance of breaking even.

He insisted no hospitals are worse off this year than they would have been under the old system, which saw cuts of between 7% and 12% last year.

Mr O'Brien also rejected what he called the "political slapstick" and said that once the Minister for Health had signed off on the HSE's National Service Plan for 2013 last month, responsibility for rebalancing budgets passed to the HSE.

The hospitals that have seen big increases in their allocations are: - Louth-Meath Hospital Group up by nearly 14%

- Mid West Hospital Group (which includes Limerick Regional) up 11.5%
- Mayo General up nearly 10%
- Beaumont Hospital up 8.4%
- Cavan-Monaghan Group up 7.5%
- Galway Hospitals Group up 7%
- Letterkenny General up nearly 7%
- Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown up over 6%
- Mater hospital up 5.7%
- Cork University up 5.4%
- Sligo General up 5.2%

The increases will be welcome news for Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who has Mayo General in his constituency and for Minister Michael Noonan with Limerick Regional in his constituency.

It is also good news for Minister Richard Bruton in Dublin North Central with Beaumont Hospital nearby, and for Ministers Joan Burton and Leo Varadkar in Dublin West with the increase being provided for Connolly Hospital.

Other hospitals whose budgets have been cut under the new allocations are:
- Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Dublin down 2.8%
- Children's University Hospital Temple Street down 2%
- St Vincent's University Hospital down 1.5%
- Royal Victoria Eye and Ear down 2.2%
- Rotunda down 1%
- Cappagh Orthopaedic down 1.4%

Hospitals that have received moderate increases are:
- Wexford Regional up 4.3%
- St Luke's Hospital Kilkenny up 3.9%
- Kerry General up 3.4%
- Tallaght up 2.8%
- Midland Regional Tullamore up 2.7%
- Midland Regional Mullingar up 2.5%
- Holles Street up 2%
- St Colmcille's Loughlinstown up 1.7%
- Coombe up 1.6%

At the publication of its National Service Plan for 2013, the HSE said that for the first time, allocations this year would be based on the projected spend rather than on historic budgets.

It said the aim was to ensure sustainable budgets, especially in the hospital sector, which has struggled in recent years to break even.

No hospital will be permitted to plan for a deficit this year.

Many of the voluntary hospitals operate bank overdrafts to maintain service provision, but there is a cap on the limit to this.

Some hospitals have had small increases in their budgets:
- Bantry General up 1.2%
- Midland Regional Portlaoise up 0.6%
- St Michael's Dún Laoghaire up 0.5%
- Naas General up 0.4%
- Waterford Regional up 0.3%.

The HSE has said it is working within a context of "increasing budgetary pressures" across the public sector.

It said it is "seeking to achieve a safe and sustainable position within the resources available".

The executive said it approached the budget allocations "on a hospital-by-hospital basis and in dialogue with leaders across the system to determine an objective assessment of need".

Meanwhile, Minister for Environment Phil Hogan said he would have no hesitation in making further representations to the Minister for Health about the future of Kilkenny hospital and any other hospital.

He said it is the Minister for Health who is ultimately responsible for making these decisions.

Speaking in Tullamore at the opening of a new €2.2m county library, Mr Hogan said Sinn Féin was talking nonsense when accusing ministers of interfering with the process because it was his right and indeed his responsibility to make representations on behalf of the people of his constituency.