Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Muster has branded the government’s failure to make a sufficient allocation for home care packages in the budget as “disgraceful”.
The current crisis in home care currently has a waiting list of 7,300 people, many of whom are lying in hospital beds. These patients are unable to return to their own homes for an indefinite period, due to lack of resources at the HSE.
Deputy Munster said:
“The government and Fianna Fáil are trying to convince us that the budget allocation of 1 million home care hours is a step forward, when it won’t even clear the current waiting list.
“In fact, it will only reduce it by 40%.
“In order to clear the waiting list an additional 2.5 million hours are required. Sinn Féin allocated €59million euro in our Alternative Budget for this purpose.
“The government and Fianna Fáil’s meagre allocation won’t even address the current backlog, never mind additional demand that will present this winter and in 2020.
“Every budget is about choices. And Fine Gael will always choose to under-fund services to protect businesses and the super-rich.
“For years they hid behind the financial crisis and used that as an excuse to neglect public services. This year they’re hiding behind Brexit.
“We can prepare for Brexit and fund the health service. They are choosing not to do both.
“I have several cases in my constituency office of people who are languishing in hospital beds, for months on end, because the government isn’t funding home care packages.
“I have previously raised the case of a local 18-year-old girl who has been waiting to leave hospital since March 2018.
“She is desperate to live at home with her family, but the government isn’t funding her home care package, so she remains in hospital. This is despite the fact her doctors have recommended her own home is the best place for her.
“I have another constituent who is a patient in their 80’s, who suffers from cancer and early dementia.
“This person has been in a step-down facility since early August, despite having their home care package approved.
“They were advised that all resources have already been allocated, and that they have been put on a waiting list.
“The letter also said that it could not indicate when the HSE would fund the home help package, so this elderly person has no idea when they might expect to be going home.
“This government talks rubbish about prudence and being responsible with the public finances. The home care fiasco is proof that they are not fit to manage public services or public finances.
“A day in a hospital bed is 10 times more expensive than a day’s home help in terms of financial cost.
“It costs €5,964 per week to care for someone in a hospital bed whereas the cost of a 26 hours a week home care package would cost approximately €546 per week.”