I propose to take Questions Nos. 1454 and 1484 together.
After the approval of the National Service Plan, the next step in the HSE’s planning process is the preparation of the more detailed Operational Plans for each Division/CHO/Hospital Group. For 2019 each area’s operational plan is required to incorporate measures to achieve both an affordable level of staffing and the saving measures required to deliver a break-even position. Patient safety is prioritised, and consistent with the Sláintecare programme, the HSE must deliver on the activity, access, improvement and other targets set out in the National Service Plan, albeit this must be done within the affordable staffing level and without exceeding the overall budget.
The operational plans are prepared at a point in time and must be viewed in this manner; they will be consistently evolving based on experience during the year.
Delivering the national service plan priorities will require a significantly enhanced focus on financial management and the HSE has committed to supporting its senior managers who will be held to account in this regard.
The HSE Chief Executive, following his appointment in May, completed a comprehensive review of the HSE financial position with senior managers. He has acknowledged the clear message from Government that the HSE is required to deliver effective and safe services within the 2019 funding allocation in the National Service Plan. He has persistently articulated this position and he has been fully supported by the Secretary General and the Chair of the HSE Board.
My Department is working with the HSE to limit the overrun to the greatest extent possible, while ensuring commitment to the agreed deliverables. This is within the context that health funding is a major policy challenge internationally, with larger and older populations, with more acute health and social care requirements, increased demand for new and existing drugs and the rising costs of health technology.