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HSE Chair warned Minister of ‘significant challenges’

By David Lynch - 30th Mar 2024

significant challenges

The HSE Chair highlighted “significant challenges” facing the health service in 2024 in a letter to the Minister for Health late last year.

On 20 December 2023, Mr Ciarán Devane sent Minister Stephen Donnelly an early version of the HSE National Service Plan 2024 (NSP 2024).

“Demand for care will continue to rise next year driven by population demographics,” Mr Devane wrote in his cover letter. “While there has been significant investment in healthcare in recent years, the cost of running our existing services at current levels over the next 12 months will be a significant challenge.”

Mr Ciarán Devane

The letter was seen by the Medical Independent following a Freedom of Information request.

The final version of the NSP 2024 was completed after “significant engagement” with the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY) and Department of Health (DoH), Mr Devane wrote in another letter to the Minister early this year.

On 26 January, Mr Devane sent the revised NSP 2024 and advised that “a number of key areas” had been amended in the plan “to ensure NSP 2024 continues to move the HSE towards the goal of universal healthcare”.

These amendments included greater service activity, further detail in relation to productivity, capacity and key programmes, and additional commitments to making progress within a set timeframe.

On 7 February, Minister Donnelly welcomed “the assurances provided by you that my priorities… have been addressed in the NSP”. Noting the input from the DCEDIY, Minister Donnelly wrote that the HSE and DoH “have engaged extensively” during the NSP process and acknowledged the importance of this “beneficial collaboration”.

The NSP 2024, which was published on 14 February, has an allocated budget of €23.5 billion, which includes  €162.8 million investment for  new service developments.

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