Disabilities group criticises cuts

 

The Brothers of Charity has said that a new round of budgetary cuts sought by the HSE will have a “devastating” impact on basic services for people with disabilities in the west.

Acting chief executive with the charity Anne Geraghty said she has been informed that further cuts are being sought by the HSE, on top of an existing budgetary cut of €2.5 million.

As a result, respite services may be cut and community homes closed in a matter of weeks, and staff let go. The Brothers of Charity board of directors is due to meet on the issue tomorrow night and a separate meeting with parents is due to be held in Galway on Tuesday night.

Frank Conaty, Galway parent and chair of the National Parents and Siblings Alliance, said that a “disastrous vista” which parents were facing at the end of the year may now be fast forwarded. “Respite care could gone within two weeks, which is shocking,” he said.

The respite of one night per week and one weekend a month provided a vital “safety valve” for parents who provided 24-hour care to their loved ones, who were intellectually and physically challenged, he said.

The Brothers of Charity have not been given a figure for the latest cut in the western region, but believe it could be around €2 million. This is on top of a cut of €2.5 million being sought for this year, and a cut of €1.8 million imposed last year.

The cuts coming just several months after an Irish Human Rights Commission report on the John Paul Centre run by the Brothers of Charity in Galway made a number of criticisms and recommendations, including the need to take a person-centred approach to care.

Ms Geraghty said that the charity did not want to revert to the old model of institutional care which had been identified as flawed by the Irish Human Rights Commission, but the new cuts would “push us back ten years”.

For the HSE to say that cuts could be imposed without affecting frontline services was “absolutely ludicrous,” Ms Geraghty told RTÉ Radio.

All six Brothers of Charity regions in the State have experienced cutbacks in HSE allocations, and in Galway the charity’s board has fallen back on reserves to try and keep key services such as respite care in place this year.