Fears that Carers and A&E Departments will be scapegoated in the latest round of Cost Saving Measures – BREEN

May 14th, 2010 - Pat Breen

News that Carers and Accident and Emergencies Units could be scape goated by the HSE’s latest plan to cut costs has prompted Fine Gael’s Deputy Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Clare T.D. Pat Breen to call on the Minister for Health and Children Mary Harney and her colleague the Minister for Social Protection Pat Carey to make an immediate statement on the matter.

“Weekend media reports suggest that Carers are to be scapegoated as the latest plan to cut costs is considered by the HSE. According to reports home help hours which a carer may be eligible for may be reduced to seven and half hours per week and there is also the threat hanging over the service that it could be reduced to an Office Hour Service, operating Monday to Friday, 9 to 5. The role of carers is very much undervalued. Family carers contribute over €2.5 billion to the State Coffers each year and according to the 2006 census, there are 4,507 carers here in County Clare, working a total of 99.660 hours per week.”

“Any attempts to make further cuts in the Home Help Service will put carers and their families under enormous strain. The fact is while reports suggest that home help hours will be reduced to 7.5 hours, many carers at the moment are only receiving 5 hours and others who urgently require assistance are being told that they will have to wait until somebody dies before they will be facilitated. The reality is that the Home Help Service is already grossly under funded.”

“Today fears are also growing that the reduction in the number of NCHDs available to hospitals will result in some Accident and Emergency Departments closing their doors this summer with others forced to operate on reduced hours. The service is coming under pressure because of the non availability of NCHD’s and budgetary cutbacks. Some 140 non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHDs) posts were not filled in January and the HSE is preparing for a further drop in numbers in July, when doctors begin their new rotations. Furthermore, other smaller hospitals could face having their hours of operations further reduced with further budgetary cutbacks being discussed. The hours of operation at Ennis General Hospital were already cut back following reconfiguration; and my fear is that if latest reports are accurate then further pain could be inflicted on smaller hospitals like Ennis.”

“The Minister for Health and Children Mary Harney and her colleague the Minister for Social Protection Pat Carey must make an immediate statement on these reports and I will be pursing both Ministers in the Dail this week.”