Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly admits to insufficiency in health budget for 2024

Donnelly stated that the Department of Health sought an extra €2 billion in funds, but only received €708 million, adding that his plans for the department of health are constrained by an increase of patient numbers.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has admitted there will be an insufficiency in the health budget for next year.

A day after the budget allocation was announced, Donnelly revealed that the funds requested by the department for the health service were not granted in the 2024 budget. 

He anticipates that a “supplementary budget” will be required in 2024 due to “healthcare inflation” and “patient demand.”

In budget negotiations with the Department of Public Expenditure, the Department of Health sought an extra €2 billion in funding, estimating that this figure would be necessary to maintain the standards of the healthcare service due to increased costs and demand in 2023.

The Department of Public Expenditure denied this request and allocated only €708 million extra for existing services, bringing the total health budget to €22.5 billion.

Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe announced an extra €1.1 million “health resilience fund” in the budget, which he said was part of “‘non- core,” or non- recurring, expenditure. This fund, however, has been already identified as support for the health costs concerned with post Covid 19 pressures and supports for Ukranian refugees.

The Department have argued strongly in pre-budget negotiations that they were not overspending, but that their budget was too low to begin with. This view was rejected by public expenditure officials in a series of heated meetings.

There is now a lot of unease in the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive about the lack of sufficient funding. One senior source stated when speaking to The Irish Times: “We sought north of €2 billion. They gave us €700 million.” 

There is also substantial anger across senior levels of Government with Minister Donnelly and the Department of Health, as other departments are of the view that they have eaten up resources that could have been more beneficial in use elsewhere.

Donnelly told a press conference that there will be a recruitment freeze in parts of the service, and there will be no allocated funding for new drugs in 2024, as an attempt to control spending in the department. 

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