Cutbacks in health service regrettable, says Gilmore


TÁNAISTE EAMON Gilmore has said he welcomes the Health Service Executive’s commitment to look at those affected by health cutbacks on a case-by-case basis

He said yesterday it was “regrettable” the HSE had announced cuts in services. “Every organisation, every department and every service has to obviously work within budget,” he added.

Mr Gilmore said the priority would be to ensure services needed by people requiring care and assistance would continue to be provided.

Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn said he did not know the reasons behind the cuts. He added that Minister for Health Dr James Reilly would brief the Cabinet on Tuesday “as to the raison d’etre”.

However, Mr Quinn said cuts had to be made “because we have lost our economic sovereignty and we are no longer in control of our cheque book”.

Fianna Fáil health spokesman Billy Kelleher said Dr Reilly must explain how he could stand by targeted cuts to homecare services for older patients and people with severe disabilities. The announcement, he said, had caused genuine distress, particularly among high-dependency patients who needed home help.

HSE national director of integrated services Laverne McGuinness said that while the cuts were necessary, the first aim of the health service was to protect frontline services. Speaking on the RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland programme, Ms McGuinness said that while €26 million would be cut from home-help and homecare services, there would still be 10.1 million home-help hours available. She said home-help cuts were constantly reviewed and would be considered on an individual basis.

Acting chief executive of the Carers Association John Dunne said the cutbacks would put pressure on family members looking after somebody in the home. “It will also lead to earlier admissions to nursing homes, as people at home with reduced support will not be able to cope,” he added.

Dr John Ball, spokesman for the Irish College of General Practitioners, said the decision was “staggering”.

Chief executive of Alone Seán Moynihan called for an immediate reversal: “These cuts affect the basic needs of the one-in-10 older people who are in dire need of support, including activities such as washing and cleaning.”

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