St Luke’s Hospital in Kilkenny should know what service cuts, if any, it is facing by the end of this week, as the HSE begins to implement a new E130 million cost-reduction scheme.
Last week, the HSE announced that its significant budget deficit means it will have to make cuts to services such as home help, elderly and disability care, and the use of agency and overtime staff in hospitals. The organisation’s new director general Tony O’ Brien has said that this means both staff reductions and bed closures.
Figures for St Luke’s in the first quarter of this year show that the hospital was running almost E1 million over-budget, marking it out as a likely candidate for cutbacks.
Yesterday, the HSE was not in a position to confirm exactly how the Kilkenny hospital will be affected. A spokesperson said that while no decisions had yet been made with regard to individual hospitals, it would become clearer in the coming days.
The HSE has attributed its current budget deficit in part to an increased demand for services. St Luke’s showed the highest percentage increase in Emergency Department attendances in the country for the first quarter of this year (36%), compared to the same period in 2011.
In July of this year, at the opening of a newly-revamped children’s ward, the HSE area manager for Carlow/Kilkenny Anna Maria Lanigan said that the HSE was ‘committed to maintaining and developing St Luke’s General Hospital’. Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan said that the hospital’s record of efficiency should stand to it in future when it comes to resource allocation.