Revised Estimate for health spending surpasses €20bn

The allocation now sought for Vote 38 for Health as of June is €1,997m greater

The new Government is to consider a Revised Estimate to pay for health spending this year of an excess of €20 billion today.

Spending for healthcare was at its highest level ever pre-pandemic for 2020 with an allocation of more than €18.33 billion originally sought for 2020 in December 2019; and the ‘new’ Revised Estimates now before Dáil Éireann seek an even higher allocation of almost €20.33bn for 2020.

The latest June 2020 estimate to be considered tomorrow, includes €1,997 million of Covid-19 spending for three new categories: Health Service Executive (HSE) – Covid-19 actions costing €1,666.688m; Primary Care Reimbursement Services (PCRS) Covid-19 actions at a cost of €110.35m; and capital Covid-19 actions (Including ICT) €220m.

Compared to the Revised Estimates 2020 in December 2019, the allocation now sought for Vote 38 for Health as of June 2020 is €1,997m greater (10.9%).

The difference is accounted for by Covid-19 pandemic-related spending.

Increased spending (€2,868.586m) by programme area is, by descending value: Health Service Executive (HSE) Health and Social Care Services: €1,978.41m (of which €1,666.688m is attributed to Covid-19); Capital Services: €384.49m (of which €220m is attributed to Covid-19); Care Programme: €337.118m (of which €110.35m is attributed to Covid-19); Corporate Administration: €74.86m; Healthcare Reform: €34.488m; Other Services: €34.191m; Other HSE Services: €14.702m; Administration: €5.508m; and grants of €4.819m.

The lack of any detail on pandemic-related spending beyond labelling three subheads is of some concern, in particular, when considered alongside the absence of context and impact indicators and performance metrics related to the pandemic, underlines the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) in its review.

The review adds, notwithstanding the challenges in relation to tracking performance in this area, the PBO considers the failure to estimate the impact of the pandemic on existing metrics and context and impact indicators to be a matter of serious concern.

Without a clearer picture of the wider impact of the pandemic on service delivery and demands it was not possible to determine if spending would increase in some areas or if savings, albeit temporary, were likely to arise.

After appropriations in aid are taken into account, the figure to be voted on by the Dáil today is almost €19.9 bn.

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