a HEFTY financial penalty is being imposed on Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda which could impact across all patient services.
More than e18.5m in financial penalties are being imposed on some of the most overcrowded hospitals in the country including the Co Louth hospital.
The other hospitals facing fines include Tallaght Hospital in Dublin, the Mater Hospital in Dublin and the National Maternity Hospital.
The fines are imposed on hospitals for so-called inefficiencies, where the costs of treating patients with certain illnesses fall below the standard set by other hospitals.
The HSE has also announced a range of cutbacks including more than 600 people losing their home help; and the postponement of the national bowel cancer screening programme, originally due to start this month, until the end of the year.
The measures include a reduction in inpatient beds for psychiatric patients, a reduction of 7 per cent in spending in child protection and family support services, and a 3 per cent reduction in patients treated in hospitals.
More than 550 public nursing home beds are to be closed and residents transferred to private homes. There will also be fewer daycare services, respite care and personal assistants for people with a disability.
The HSE will see 3,300 retirements by March, mostly among medical and nursing staff, and there will be no increase in home-care packages.
HSE chief executive Cathal Magee warned that frontline services would suffer and the 2012 shortfall would be more difficult to cope with.
The cuts follow the e1.75bn already slashed from health spending in the last two years. Health Minister Dr James Reilly said that more hospitals will have their Emergency Departments downgraded this year.
The Minister wouldn’t be drawn on which hospitals or how many would be downgraded.
However, he did say that the pressure that Cavan, Blanchardstown, Mater, Beaumont and Drogheda are under, “just doesn’t allow for Navan to change its status”.