Naughten ‘dismay’ at alleged HSE cutbacks

Claims on national radio yesterday (Tuesday) suggesting that the HSE plans to reduce its frontline staff by 1,000 have been greeted with dismay by Fine Gael TD Denis Naughten. Mr. Naughten claims that the HSE cuts will have ramifications for Roscommon County Hospital, which he says will lose out on the appointments of necessary frontline staff. Mr. Naughten also said that the cuts would result in 2.92 full-time positions at Roscommon Hospital being lost before the end of the year. The HSE rejects the reports, and Health Minister Mary Harney also denies their veracity.  On Tuesday morning the national media secured possession of a document leaked from the office of the HSE’s head of human resources. The document details a targeted staff reduction of 1,000 by December 2007. Ms. Harney has described the document as ‘totally inaccurate’.  The HSE dismissed them as ‘completely untrue’.  But Deputy Naughten has discarded these assurances, and points out that Fianna Fáil and the PDs made similar comments in the same context prior to the last general election. ‘The exact same reassurances were made prior to the last general election by Fianna Fáil and the PDs. Staff cuts in the health service were mooted before the last general election and on that occasion the health boards denied that they were planned. Within a fortnight of the election the cuts were implemented,’ said the Fine Gael frontbench spokesperson. Mr. Naughten asserted that the cutbacks would affect Roscommon County Hospital later this year. ‘At present there is a large number of vacancies in frontline staff in Roscommon, and they are urgently required as they directly deliver services to patients. Today’s revelations mean that these frontline staff will not now be appointed, and this will cause undue suffering for local people, with the most vulnerable suffering the most,’ he said.  ‘This is a prime example of exactly what is wrong with the health services under Fianna Fáil and the PDs,’ said Deputy Naughten who concluded his statement by saying that the plan by the HSE to cap staffing numbers would cause ‘undue suffering.’