Sinn Féin Councillor Noel Jordan has insisted that the fate of respite services across Donegal must not become mere collateral damage or fall victim to cuts owing to the ongoing funding row between the HSE and the service provider, the Rehab Group.
The Donegal Councillor’s comments come as the HSE and Rehab Group executives have agreed to enter into further talks shortly in a fresh bid to end an ongoing funding row which centres on a request made by the group for an additional €2m to be made available to help support its services.
The group provides respite care at a number of facilities across the county, and was recently awarded the contract for service provision at Sea View House in Mountcharles which is due to commence from this September.
Councillor Jordan says that, given the significant number of service users who depend on the services the group provides, the HSE and the Government must do everything in their power to avoid services being withdrawn.
Cllr Jordan said:
“There is much anxiety amongst service users and their families over the continuing funding row between the HSE, the Government and the Rehab Group.
“While executives from the group and the Health Service Executive have agreed to engage further over the next few days in a bid to end the stalemate, the threat that the group may terminate its care services agreed previously with the HSE continues to cast doubt over the future of respite care here.
“I understand that while the Minister and officials from Rehab have held discussion over a requested €2m in extra funding which the group says it needs in order to enable it to provide its services going forward, there has been little in the way of firm commitments to date.
“Rehab claims that cutting its care services would affect 3,000 people with disabilities who access Rehab's 147 services at 117 locations around the state, including hundreds of families here in Donegal.
“In fact, down in my own area the group has recently been awarded the contract to provide respite services at Sea View House in Mountcharles and there are genuine fears over the fate of this deal.
“Additionally, a number of families of service users have expressed concern at indications that the new schedule for respite care at Sea View House may not include weekend periods, and this is clearly something which needs to be further clarified as weekend cover is vital to support these families and care givers.
“To put it simply, services here cannot become collateral damage in this dispute between the HSE, the Government and the Rehab Group because we are talking about people’s lives here.
“My colleague Deputy Pearse Doherty has agreed to raise this with the Minister in the Dáil this week because, evidently, the people of this county and all who depend on these supports need certainty and they need it urgently.”