This week, the Health Service Executive service plan for 2017 was published. The introduction reads well as it references expanding services and improving the quality and safety of services but when one drills down through the figures, it does not read well at all. In fact, it is another work of fiction. We have highlighted consistently in recent years that the HSE service plans are not built on solid foundations. That has been more or less admitted by many people who have commentated on them. The headline increase is €459 million, but when the demographics and salary increases are taken into account, there is €61 million available to expand existing services or bring forward new services. That is €61 million across the entire health service, and of that €61 million, only €9 million has been made available for the acute hospital system.
Every day of the week, we hear people ringing in to radio stations to complain about the treatment meted out to their parent or other loved one in emergency departments. Waiting lists are at an all-time high. People are not able to access outpatient appointments for gynaecological, orthodontic or orthopaedic services. Across the board there are substantial increases in every area. This HSE service plan suggests it will address all of these issues with an additional €61 million for all services across the State.
We have to have an honest assessment of where we are going in terms of the provision of health care. We talk about improving the quality and safety of services but we are facing a crisis in every area of health. Our hospital system is not functioning. It is not capable of delivering even emergency care at this stage because consistently people are waiting in ambulances outside emergency departments. There is a lack of capacity and not enough consultants, midwives and nurses. In every aspect of the health service we are facing huge difficulties in providing basic care. To put that in context, Mr. Tony O'Brien, the director general of the HSE, stated recently at the health committee that within the next number of years, the health services will be unable to deliver any elective surgery. Effectively, only acute services and nothing else beyond that will be provided.
This HSE service plan is a work of fiction but, unfortunately, it is turning into a nightmare in emergency departments. Even at this late stage, will there be an acknowledgement from the Government that in talking about expanding services we have to fund those services? We cannot go on with this pretence and depend on a workforce of 105,000 to deliver health care in unsafe environments while being unable to deliver the basics across our hospital system.