What Mary Harney said would have to be cut from health budget

Posted in Blog by saraburke on October 26, 2010

Seven days ago at the ESRI conference on resource allocation in the health sector,  Mary Harney said that the HSE is facing cuts ‘between €600,000 and one billion’. I asked her that question on the door step – so what actually did Mary Harney say?


€40m spent on agency nurses last year, €30m so far this year

Posted in Blog by saraburke on September 16, 2010

Yesterdays Controller and Auditor’s general report devoted over 100 pages scrutinising how specific monies have been spent on health. In particular it highlighted €44 million the HSE spent on agency staff in 2009. Figures obtained by me today show that so far this year just another €30 million has been spent on nursing agency staff. Clearly this is not the best use of public money. (more…)


Dental schemes in need of check-up

Posted in Articles by saraburke on October 21, 2009

This is the long version of the story that appeared in Irish TImes on 20 October 2009

More than 10 per cent of the claims made by private dentists could be inappropriate or fraudulent, writes SARA BURKE

A SERIES of unpublished reports on the free dental scheme for adults seen by The Irish Times reveals that in excess of 10 per cent of the €85 million budget is paid out by the HSE on inappropriate or fraudulently claimed payments by dentists in private practice.

Despite knowledge by senior officials in the Department of Health and the HSE of these payments in the dental scheme, no action has been taken.

Reports have been commissioned as far back as 2002 making recommendations on how best to put checks in place for dentists who wrongly claim fees or carry out inappropriate procedures under the Dental Treatment Services Scheme (DTSS). (more…)

HSE and Harney won the pharmacy battle

Posted in Blog by saraburke on September 4, 2009

Here are the bones of the content of my health slot on yesterdays RTE Radio 1’s Drivetime programme: 

When I walked into a pharmacy in a small town in West Cork on the 7th of August and they told me that they were fully dispensing despite their participation in the IPU action, I knew that Mary Harney and the HSE had won the battle and probably the war.

The ‘war’ was between the HSE/Dept of Health and pharmacies in the IPU over the reduction in fees paid under the community drugs scheme (I go into more detail on this in an earlier blog) to pharmacies.

It was a situation that has been going on for years whereby the government allowed fees paid to pharmacies under community drugs schemes to reach very high levels. (more…)