HSE's Tony O'Brien confirms Irish health cuts will lead to bed closures

Hospital beds and theatres will be closed in the Republic of Ireland as a result of significant staff cuts, a leading health chief has confirmed.

Last week, the Health Service Executive (HSE) announced it would make cuts totalling 130m euros (£103m) to health services to stay within its budget.

The move will include a 50% cut in agency health care staff.

On Sunday, Tony O'Brien from the HSE said the cuts could not be implemented without some impact on patient beds.

The cuts are part of the Republic of Ireland's tough austerity measures, following its international bailout in 2010.

The HSE's director general designate said his organisation had to take action to provide assurances to the 'troika' (the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund).

Speaking to RTE, the Irish state broadcaster, Mr O'Brien said the planned level of cuts presented "significant challenges".

However, he explained that if cost reductions were not made, the HSE would run out of money before the end of the year.

When he was asked if the staff cuts would lead to bed and theatre closures, Mr O'Brien replied "absolutely".

He added that every cost reduction would be subject to a risk assessment.

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