Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster has hit out at the HSE’s decision to stop funding new home care packages, as the number of patients languishing for weeks on end in hospital beds increases.
Deputy Munster said:
“The HSE and the government are a disgrace. There is no other word for what is going on here.
“The government have closed down public nursing homes and are attempting to close down respite facilities, including in Co. Louth. When they were closing public long stay and respite beds from the Cottage Hospital in Co. Louth they claimed that this is to allow for people to live independently in the community.
“Well that’s clearly not what’s happening.
“What’s happening is that people are now being left to languish in hospital beds right across the state, when they should be at home, because the HSE has pulled funding for home care packages.
“This is the entirely foreseeable outcome of Fine Gael’s policy of closing nursing homes and cutting funding for home care packages. This government doesn’t give a damn about independent living.
“Some weeks ago I raised the case of the 50 year old man who had, at that time, spent nine weeks in a step down facility as there was no funding for the home care package he needed.
“Since that time several other families have been in touch with me with similar stories. The situation appears to be worsening, with more people spending far too long in hospital settings because of the funding cut.
“The family of a patient who is over eighty years of age contacted me this week. This patient has already spent almost two months in hospital and is now being sent to a step down facility and will have to remain in that facility for the foreseeable future, and their homecare package has been refused.
“Here is a perfect example of the human cost of the cost-cutting measures imposed by Fine Gael. It shows that they have absolutely no respect for those who require a little bit of help to live at home.
“The government can’t manage budgets, and their response is to cut home care packages, despite the fact that they are one of the most cost effectives types of care available to the health service. 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.
“To keep people in hospital unnecessarily is cruel, it’s poor medical practice and it is completely illogical from a financial point of view.
“This comes down to choice. In order to balance a budget, Fine Gael chose to cut home supports to older, vulnerable and disabled people. It says a lot about their priorities.
“If their talk of encouraging independent living isn’t just spin, then they need to get their act together and focus on funding these homecare packages to allow for independent living which will benefit patients as well as the taxpayer in terms of cost.”