Fianna Fáil TD Eugene Murphy has said that the announcement in the HSE’s Service Plan for 2017 that no additional home help hours are to be provided will put severe pressure on families, and will continue the chronic overcrowding in our hospitals.
Commenting on the issue Eugene Murphy said “The HSE Service Plan has ignored the crying need for additional home help hours across the country, and will ensure that thousands of older people will be left without the support they need”.
Deputy Murphy acknowledged the allocation of €480,000 for the electrical upgrade of St Vincent’s hospital in Athlone while he also welcomed the allocation of some €100,000 to finalise work on new primary care centre for Boyle. Construction of the new Boyle Primary Care Centre is under way and the service plan provides extra funding to make it fully operational by the third quarter of next year.
However he went on to say that the HSE service plan also ignores the Programme for Government commitment to increase the number of home help hours. Indeed, the 2016 Fine Gael manifesto pledged an additional 2.2 million home help hours over the next five years, so really we should have been seeing in the region of 400,000 being announced for 2017 if they were keeping to their own commitments."
“The upshot of this decision is that further pressure will be put on the already stretched nursing home system as older people will not have the supports they need to stay in their homes.”
“Health professionals all say that outcomes are better for older people if they are able to remain their own homes, supported by home helps, and their families,” added Eugene Murphy.
Deputy Murphy also said that he is extremely disappointed at the allocation for primary health care services in the 2017 HSE Service Plan.
“Despite regular pronouncements by various Ministers about the crucial role of primary health care, and the need to increase the capacity of primary care providers such as GPs, Pharmacists and Community Nurses, there is nothing in the Service Plan to make me believe that the HSE has a plan to use primary care to alleviate blockages in the acute health system,” said Murphy.
“Minister Harris has only secured an additional €30 million to the primary care budget, bringing it to €808 million for the year. While this is an increase of 4%, it is hardly in keeping with the ‘decisive shift of the Health Service to Primary Care’ which is the first health priority in the Programme for Government,” added Murphy.
“More detail is needed, and expected in the primary care operation plan which is due to be published in early 2017,” concluded Murphy.