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The Minister made the request in a letter to HSE Director General Mr Tony O’Brien dated 13 December last.
The letter was seen by the Medical Independent (MI) following a Freedom of Information request. It was written by the Minister on his approval of the new Service Plan in December.
In the conclusion of the letter, the Minister highlighted a number of “immediate steps for the HSE to take” to help in “successfully implementing the Plan”. These included “monthly performance reporting to be enhanced, with a particular emphasis in the financial area on clarity regarding projected and actual income from sources other than the Department of Health”, wrote Minister Harris.
In his reply to the Minister’s letter, dated 10 January, Mr O’Brien wrote “as regards performance reporting generally, the HSE is happy to engage with colleagues in DoH to understand any further requirements”.
“Work is underway to make initial improvements to the financial reporting of internal drugs reimbursement income and this will be in place for the February reporting cycle,” wrote the HSE Director General.
In the conclusion of this letter, Mr O’Brien highlighted that the Service Plan was approved on 13 December “despite the previously discussed intention of the DoH and HSE to get an earlier service plan approval date which would facilitate the earlier completion of the budget notification, financial planning and budget profiling steps”.
He added: “The shared desire, influenced by our understanding of what was intended by the announced revision to the annual estimates process, was for the DoH to provide ELS [Existing Level of Service] figures to the HSE at a much earlier date than in previous years.”
However, Mr O’Brien noted that “this did not prove feasible”.
He concluded the letter by writing that it “would be useful to try and make progress on this issue” in time for the 2018 estimates process.