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HSE ‘evaluation exercise’ undertaken on Covid response cost

By Catherine Reilly - 25th Oct 2022

A “clinically-guided and operations-led” evaluation exercise on Covid-19 “responses” in acute and community care was recently undertaken by the HSE.

The aim was to assess the “operational and financial impact” of each response for the remainder of 2022 and into 2023.

“Measures include, for example, the continued transitioning of test and trace from the mass testing model to a surveillance-led model with a GP clinical pathway,” according to a HSE spokesperson.

The HSE draft revenue income and expenditure financial position at the end of July 2022 showed a year-to-date deficit of €731.4 million or 6.2 per cent, with a significant element driven by the direct impact of Covid-19.

This was reflected in the €608.2 million adverse variance on the Covid-19 reported costs and €123.2 million ad-verse variance on core costs.

“However, when some of the known direct knock-on impacts Covid-19 is having on core services (eg, reduction in hospital income/patient income and an increase in bad debts levels) are stripped out, this core variance reduces to an estimated €50 million year to date,” stated the HSE.

The spokesperson also said the “operational consequences” of long Covid for the Irish health system were “not yet fully clear”, but would likely have “a significant impact on demands on the system in 2022 and beyond”.

“In addition, as the year progresses the impact of ‘delayed’ care (a direct impact of Covid-19) will also in-crease demand for core services.”

The Chief Financial Officer told the HSE board in June that the quarter one forecast indicated a “concerning level of unfunded core costs year-to-date and this trend is currently predicted to continue through 2022”. There had also been “a slower than expected fall-off in Covid-specific cost”.

Examples of unfunded core costs included non-pay inflationary costs, such as electricity, fuel, and transport costs and increased pension costs due to a significant in-crease in retirees.

The HSE said it had “engaged extensively” on cost pressures both internally and externally.

“On the wider inflationary issue, the HSE has also en-gaged with the Office of Government Procurement to strengthen the HSE’s alignment with the overall public sector approach for procurement.”

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