Anger at HSE plan to cut home help


THERE HAS been strong criticism of HSE plans to cut spending on home help services by €8 million between now and the end of the year.

The HSE said yesterday the number of home help hours would be reduced by between 400,000 and 450,000 hours as a result of the budget cuts.

Trade union Siptu said the decision was morally unacceptable and illogical. It said the move would reduce the quality of life of the most vulnerable and result in increased costs.

Siptu’s health division organiser Paul Bell said: “Cuts in home help hours will not only reduce the provision of care to the most vulnerable in our society, but will also result in more people having to avail of full-time care in a hospital setting.

“These outcomes go directly against the stated aim of the Government to develop community-based health services and reduce spending. The reduction in home help services will also increase the hardships faced by the low-paid workers who provide these services.”

Mr Bell said that last month Siptu had requested an emergency Labour Court hearing into “the rapidly deteriorating treatment of home helps”.

“The request followed the failure of the HSE to honour the terms of a Labour Court recommendation which proposed that management enter meaningful discussions on finalising an agreement to provide home helps with adequate contracts and security of earnings.”

The campaign group Older and Bolder said the cut would “devastate the prospect of safe ageing at home”.

It said such cuts, added to those already implemented in January, would result in just under 1 million hours of home help support being withdrawn in this year alone.

The director of Older and Bolder Patricia Conboy said: “The HSE has predetermined that €8 million will be cut from home help services before the end of the year. To say that the assessment process is based on ‘a review of individual needs’ is misleading at best. The outcome has been decided before the needs of any individual have been considered.

“The whole approach is not feasible. Just how is the HSE going to engage efficiently and humanely in the individualised assessment of 11,000,000 home help hours?”

The HSE said on Thursday decisions in relation to the provision of home help hours would continue to be based on a review of individual needs. It said no current recipient of this service and who had an assessed need for the service would be without a service.