The Health Estimates for 2013 continue to be very challenging and further cost reductions had to be made to ensure the most vulnerable were protected and frontline services maintained to the greatest extent possible. The Health Services have already made significant progress in "doing more with less" with significantly reduced financial and human resources.
In order to mitigate the impact on services at hospital and community level due to the reduction in employment numbers, the priority is to reform how health services are delivered in order to ensure a more productive and cost effective health system. The additional working hours and other cost-saving measures provided for in the Haddington Road Agreement are a pivotal element in this regard.
The rebalancing of hospital budgets in 2013 has ensured that hospitals have been given budgets which are related more closely to their costs in 2012. The HSE will be required to address any slippage in Cost Containment Plans and to ensure that additional measures are identified and safely implemented to bridge any projected deficits which are within HSE direct control, while engaging with my Department on a continuing basis.