HSE Service Plan is Merely Treading Water; Provision for Older People Completely inadequate – Shortall

December 14, 2016

Commenting on the release of the HSE Service Plan 2017, Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall TD has described the Service Plan as “merely treading water. It will barely keep services going at their current level, with less than 0.6% of the overall allocation earmarked for the expansion and development of services”.

Deputy Shortall said;
“In relation to critical home help supports for older people, it would appear that there is no additional funding for 2017 relative to the outturn in 2016. This is astonishing given the fact that one of the main issues raised with T.D’s over the past year has been a dire shortage of home help and home care supports to enable older people to live independently in their own homes. While the increase in Home Care Packages is less than 2%, failure to adequately fund this area is short-sighted as it results in many more older people ending up in acute hospital beds or having no choice but to access a nursing place.”

“Yet again Primary Care services continue to be under funded. We need to be much more ambitious about changing the model of care so that people can have most of their healthcare provided at Primary Care level in their own community. This would achieve much better health outcomes, give better value for money and take pressure off the hospitals.”

“Disappointingly, the 3% allocation for mental health services confirms the governments rowing back on earlier commitments to adequately fund this area where provision of service falls very far short of demand.”

“The plan also appears to be signalling a cut to the Personal Assistance hours of people living with a disability. The funding relative to this year’s outturn will drop from 1.5m to 1.4m, yet the overall number of people expected to be in receipt of Personal Assistance services remains the same.”

Of grave concern must be comments in the plan relating to what are termed “unavoidable pay related costs which were identified during the estimates process but not funded within the overall allocation”. The plan states “The most significant of these relate to the net cost of increments, which must be paid in line with approved public pay policy, which has been estimated at €27.5m for 2017.” Deputy Shortall pointed out “critically under new budgetary rules, unlike in other years, there can be no supplementary budget for Health in 2017. We need clarification on where this sum of €27.5m is to come from, and an assurance that it will not result in cuts to patient services.”