Home help cuts reversed in Mayo

 

The Western Health Board yesterday decided to reverse a controversial decision to initiate cutbacks in the home help service in Co Mayo.

Users of the service were informed in a letter earlier this week that the maximum number of hours that the service could be used per week had been cut from 18 to 11.

The cutback caused widespread consternation to users, many of whom depend on the service to ensure that they can live in their own homes rather than having to move into full-time residential care.

The elderly, the sick and people with disabilities are among users of the service.

However, following local political condemnation, the health board has decided not to go ahead with the proposed reduction.

It said it would be notifying all those who might have been affected by the decision.

In a statement yesterday the board said it regretted any distress or inconvenience caused to users of the home help service by the decision.

The statement continued: "We will now be carrying out a needs assessment on all recipients of the service on a case-by-case basis in the coming months to ensure that we can continue to respond both to existing and emerging needs."

The Fine Gael spokesman on social and community affairs, Mr Michael Ring TD, had threatened earlier this week to march with relatives of those affected by the cutbacks on the health board offices in Galway next week.

Yesterday he said he welcomed the U-turn by the board.

"It was an outrageous cutback. In my political career to date I had never had so many distressed calls about a cutback.

"I welcome a review of the service.

"Looking at each person's need individually is fair, but to simply cut back indiscriminately across the board was a disgraceful move," Mr Ring said.