The gross current budget for the Health Sector for 2014 is €13,263m, a reduction of €361m on the 2013 allocation of €13,624m. This comprises a reduction of €20m for the Department of Health (Vote 38) and a reduction of €341m for the HSE (Vote 39).
A total of €666m in health savings measures have been identified in the context of the Health Estimates to meet the overall health expenditure ceiling reduction of €361m, Programme for Government commitments of €57m, and health service pressures of €248m. Some of the savings measures represent the full year effect of initiatives taken in 2013, while others are new savings targets for 2014. The level of health services to be delivered within the available funding will be set out in the Health Service Executive's 2014 National Service Plan.
Challenging savings targets have been set in relation to medical card probity and pay savings to be achieved under the Haddington Road Agreement. Full-year savings for some of the measures outlined in the Expenditure Report 2014, such as Generic Substitution and Reference Pricing; GP Visit Card instead of retention of full medical card on return to work; and the Nurse Bank, are more difficult to quantify at this stage for reasons of timing and the nature of the savings involved. It should be noted that a number of the measures I have taken here are new initiatives, and for this reason I believe that we should take account of the learning from them as we implement change and reform our health system.
At my request, the Government has decided that the Secretaries General of the Departments of Health, Public Expenditure and Reform and the Taoiseach will engage in an intensive exercise to ensure verification and implementation of the proposed savings in the Health Vote.