Has HSE got more or less money this year?

You still need to keep your wits about you to work out from the 2017 HSE National Service Plan if the budget received by the HSE to fund health and social services in 2017 is an increase or a decrease on last year, writes Maureen Browne.

The good news about the 2017 HSE National Service Plan is that, it is easy to discover the amount of money – €13,948.5 million – which the Executive has received from the Department of Health to finance health and social care this year.

The Service Plan tells us that this is an increase of €458.6 million or 3.4% in funding.

Then as we move on we are told that this €458.6 million is an increase year on year.

The important words here of course are year on year, which I presume means that the January 2017 budget is being contrasted with the January 2016 budget.

Then, as you move down the NSP pages you are reminded that in July last year the Oireachtas provided an additional €500 million for health and social care services as part of the revised 2016 estimate. This presumably brought the total HSE budget for last year to €13,989.9 bn

I had a look to see if the Plan would then state definitely how we were to fare financially in 2017 compared to 2016. I couldn’t find this information, but then I might have missed it.

We have a workforce of more than 105,000 and I want to acknowledge that their contribution and commitment is at the heart of an effective health service.

Doing the sums myself I figured out that if my understanding of ‘year on year’ is correct (and I checked the Oxford Dictionary) , far from getting an increase of €422.1 million for 2017, the HSE actually appeared to be suffering a decrease of over €41 million on the total of €13,989.9 million it received last year.

I am sure there are rational explanations available for all this – and maths isn’t my best subject.

There seems to be general agreement that a separate provision of €439 million will be available for capital funding in 2017, comprising €384 million for building, equipping and furnishing of health facilities with a further €55 million for ICT.

Speaking at the launch of the NSP, Mr. Tony O’Brien, HSE Director General noted: “The health service continues to deliver its services in an environment where the, population is growing, the number of people seeking to access services is higher than ever before and where public expectations for quality services continue to increase. There will be an ongoing and significant management challenge to balance demands and needs within the funding available to the HSE.”

Pointing to a predicted population increase overall of 0.7% between 2016 and 2017 (with this projected to increase overall by four per cent by 2022), Mr O’Brien stressed that there would be an anticipated rise of 3.7% in those aged 85 years and over. While noting that growing older in continued good health and independence was the goal for all, the inevitable increase in demands for services and assistance added greater demands and pressures for increased and expanded services.

The Director General noted that as well as setting out the type and volume of services, the Service Plan “outlines the journey the health service is on to improve its services. We have a workforce of more than 105,000 and I want to acknowledge that their contribution and commitment is at the heart of an effective health service.”

However, the Director General stressed that there were “a number of risks to the successful delivery of the Service Plan. While every effort will be made to manage these risks, it may not be possible to eliminate them in full and they may impact on planned levels of service delivery or achievement of targeted performance.”