Government and HSE cannot continue to break the law by denying the rights of children with disabilities – Imelda Munster TD

Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath, Imelda Munster, has called on the government and HSE to stop breaking the law, stop cutting corners, and provide children with disabilities with the services they need.

Sinn Féin introduced a Dáil motion calling on government to ensure that the rights of children with disabilities are fully protected, that they fulfil their obligations under the Disability Act in full, and that the Optional Protocol on the UNCRPD is implemented.

Teachta Munster said:

“The High Court has ruled that the HSE’s assessment of need process is operating outside of the law and is denying children with disabilities their right, as set down in the Disability Act, to a proper assessment of need within six months.

“As has been constantly raised by Sinn Féin, this procedure was introduced in 2020 in bad faith as a mechanism for the government to avoid its legal obligations.

“They have now been found out.

“The judgement was a damning indictment of government policy and their abject failure to appropriately resource Children’s Disability Services.

“It reflects the widespread personal testimonies of parents and disability organisations who have shared their harrowing and exhausting experiences with Sinn Féin TDs.

“We will continue to stand up for these children and their parents, and we will ensure that their voices are heard.

“Earlier this month, the government accepted our motion on assessment of need, which pointed out consistent breaches of the law. They also accepted the High Court ruling.

“Of late, government has been accepting motions, or not opposing them, purely for fear of public backlash. But the reality is that they never act on them.

“But what we need to see now is action. The Minister must commit to providing the funding and resources necessary to ensure children get the services they need in a timely manner.

“Sinn Féin’s motion calls on government to implement the optional protocol on the UNCRPD, and to commit that any review of the Disability Act will not be used to undermine the current rights of people with disabilities.

“We are also calling for an immediate upgrade of the relevant IT systems and databases to accurately maintain and report on the data required under the Disability Act 2005.

“They must also develop and implement a strategy to recruit and retain the staff needed to deliver services, including reviewing the current critical skills list and providing a job guarantee to health and social care graduates.

“We also believe that full reports before the Houses of the Oireachtas before the summer recess are necessary. These must detail in full how government will meet its legal obligations under the Disability Act and resource Children’s Disability Services.

“The government must live up to its legal obligations and provide children with disabilities with the services they need.”

Cllr Anne Campbell: Celebrate our Older People

Sunday 1st October marked International Day of Older Persons, a United Nations designated day in which we should celebrate the contribution older people make to our society and to ensure the conditions exist to facilitate the active participation of our older citizens in all aspects of life.

Councillor Anne Campbell explained “the theme for this year International Day of Older Person is ‘Stepping into the Future: Tapping the Talents, contributions and Participation of Older Persons in Society’. There are 16,077 people in Louth who are over 65 according to the 2016 census and Sinn Féin wants to see their contribution celebrated and this increased longevity continuing.”

“Sadly for some of our older citizens who wish to remain or to be cared for in their own homes, the lack of homecare services which would enable them to do so is turning their later years into a challenging time in their lives. Home care delivered at home is the preferred option for most older people and their families. However, the current government policy has an emphasis on nursing homes as the solution to providing long-term care for our older citizens.”

“We are committed to ensuring that those 16,000+ older people in Louth can live with dignity and continue to contribute to society and we see it as fundamental that they should live independently for as long as possible. So Sinn Féin has put forward costed proposals in our alternative budget for 2018 that would see home help hours increase by 20% which would enable more older people to remain independent in their own homes for longer.

“To prevent the knock on effect of increased trolley and waiting list crises that having older people ‘stuck’ in hospital because of the lack of homecare packages, we are proposing that they are increased by 15%. In real terms that would be an extra 2,485 home care packages across the state.”

Cllr Campbell said “Our older people deserve to have respect and dignity and to be celebrated. Sinn Féin is on their side and I would encourage the government to invest in our older citizens needs in Budget 2018.”

To read our full alternative budget 2018 please visit www.sinnfein.ie

Taoiseach must deliver accommodation for mental health in Dundalk – Adams

Louth Sinn Féin TD Gerry Adams has today raised with the Taoiseach the lack of accommodation for mental health services in north County Louth.

Speaking during Leaders Questions in the Dáil, Teachta Adams said;

“On Friday, along with my Louth Sinn Féin colleague Teachta Imelda Munster, I visited the Department of Psychiatry acute in-patient unit in Drogheda.

“This is a world class, state of the art facility which provides intensive short term treatment.

“Patients are then discharged to the community mental health staff for follow up care.

“However in North Louth, community based psychiatric services are practically non-existent and all provision is delivered from a 60 year old building at Ladywell, Louth Hospital, Dundalk.

“Because of issues of damp and the lack of suitable space, much of Ladywell is unusable.

“This means that there is no Child and Adolescent Mental Health provision and no Psychiatry of Old Age in North Louth.

“Additional staff have been allocated to the area and I welcome that, but there is no accommodation for them in Dundalk.

“Unacceptably patients must travel, sometimes up to 60 kilometers, to Ardee or Drogheda to access these basic mental health services.

“There is a longstanding promise of a Primary Care Centre with a facility for community mental health for Dundalk.

“But there is no start date, nothing but a worthless promise which is used to excuse the refusal to upgrade Ladywell.

“I presented the Taoiseach with a choice, either deliver the Primary Care Centre as soon as possible or upgrade the building at Ladywell.

“I have asked both the Taoiseach and the Minister for Mental Health Helen McEntee to visit Ladywell to see first-hand how unsuitable the premises is.

“I will continue to raise this issue until the citizens of North Louth have access to necessary services in suitable premises in their own area.”

 

Threatened services at Daisy Hill jeopardises Cross Border Healthcare – Adams

Louth Sinn Féin TD Gerry Adams has said that any reduction in services at Newry’s Daisy Hill Hospital will have a detrimental impact on his constituents and on healthcare provision in Louth.

Gerry Adams said;

“The Southern Health and Social Care Trust have stated that the temporary overnight closure of the Emergency Department at Daisy Hill Hospital is being considered due to staffing issues.

“People living in the Newry, South Armagh and Down areas are naturally concerned that if this happens it will be the thin end of the wedge for further closures and diminishment of services at Daisy Hill, which may result in the eventual closure of the hospital.

“In Louth we have witnessed a similar chain of events which has resulted in the closure of the Emergency Department and a host of other services at the Louth County Hospital in Dundalk.

“The corollary of this is a massive increase in demand placed on Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, where sufficient extra capacity was not introduced. This is now manifest in increased waiting times for in patient and outpatient treatment, huge numbers of people on trollies, long waits for emergency treatment, stress for patients and staff and staff shortages.

“There are a significant number of people from Louth and across all of the border counties who, through the EU funded Cooperation and Working Together (CAWT) project, access treatment at Daisy Hill Hospital.

“Arrangements are in place for cross border ENT, Urology and Vascular treatment as well as Kidney Dialysis and of course the Emergency Department.  This is all in jeopardy in the event of service reduction in Daisy Hill and this will place even more of a strain on Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital.

“I have written to the Health Minister Simon Harris to alert him to this situation and I have also written to the Chairperson of the Southern Health and Social Care Trust, Roberta Brownlee, to urge a swift resolution to this matter and the full retention of services at Daisy Hill Hospital.”

Louth Children admitted to adult mental health Centres – Gerry Adams TD

Gerry Adams SmilingSinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams TD has described the admission of children to adult only in-patient mental health approved centres as a “scandal that must be urgently addressed.”

The Louth TD said: “The Mental Health Commission report published this week has revealed that 95 children were admitted in 2015 to adult approved centres in direct contravention of the Code of Practice”.

20 of these children were from the Community Healthcare Area (CHO 8) which covers county Louth, Laois, Offaly, Longford Westmeath and Meath.”

Gerry Adams said:

“Under current mental health policy children up to the age of 18 who require in-patient mental health services should only be admitted to dedicated child and adolescent in-patient units.

Last year that instruction was breached 95 times and 20 children from the region that includes Louth were among them.

The report also reveals that the Community Healthcare Area with the highest numbers of admissions was CHO 8 which includes county Louth.

The Commission states that the admitting team attempted unsuccessfully to source an inpatient bed in the approved dedicated child and adolescent centres for all of the children. However, it has emerged that on all dates that children were admitted to adult centres there were bed vacancies. It notes that it is ‘unclear why these vacant beds were not made available.’

It suggests that this may be down to beds being needed outside of office hours or the lack of available emergency cover. None of these excuses are acceptable.

The Commission’s report illustrates how much remains to be done, including the need for independent monitoring of the State’s mental health strategy ‘Vision for Change’. There are also huge issues surrounding funding, or the lack of it. The current level of funding for mental health is still less than the 8.24% target, based on 2005 figures, envisaged in ‘A Vision for Change’.

I have written to the Minister for Health seeking explanations about the admission of children to adults units. The government also has a responsibility to provide adequate funding and administrative and organisational resources to mental health services.”