Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, responding to new research showing that cuts have resulted in serious under-staffing for front-line care in our hospitals, has said Health Minister James Reilly is “presiding over a shambles”.
Deputy Ó Caoláin, who is raising these issues directly with the Minister at the Dáil Health Committee this morning, said:
“The new study by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation showing that hospitals in this State are seriously under-staffed compared to those in the North and Britain is yet another damning indictment of the austerity regime being imposed in the health services by Health Minister James Reilly and his cabinet colleagues. This under-staffing is affecting patient care in our hospitals.
“The minister is presiding over a shambles in our health services.
“At the end of August we had an additional €130 million reduction imposed by the Minister, on top of the €750 million taken out of the health services for 2012 and the €1 billion for 2011.
“And just last week we learned that the minister will be seeking a supplementary estimate to make up the shortfall for the remainder of 2012.
“This is a shambles. It is a shambles for the Minister but far more importantly it is a shambles for the patients who are now suffering the cutbacks being imposed right, left and centre in our health services.
“We are hearing about more of the cuts every day.
“In my own constituency people with disabilities and older people are meeting this Saturday in Cavan town to protest at these cuts. One local example they have given me is a 94 year old man whose home help hours have been halved from 11 hours a week to five.
“I have received a representation on behalf of a 99-year old man in County Mayo who is living alone and who has had his three hours home help per week cut to two.
“In County Cork my colleague Deputy McLellan tells me of a woman aged 82 who lives alone, suffered clots on her lung earlier this year, requires oxygen on a 24-hour basis, takes medication for her breathing twice a day and is also on Warfarin. She had one hour home help four mornings per week and a half hour in the evening and also two night visits per week to help with oxygen. Her morning home help visits are being cut by 15 minutes per day and the night time visits are being cut altogether.
“In Galway we have seen a mother completely robbed of her 5 hours a week home help as she tries to provide 24/7 care for her severely disabled 6-year-old son. This was done without any assessment.
“It seems that parents of children with severe disabilities are being especially badly affected.
“In Limerick another mother with a severely disabled son had her hours cut by half. I note that Minister of State Jan O’Sullivan has told the Limerick Leader that the cut to this family was not right. She stated that she and colleagues are looking at ways in which it can be addressed. I hope she is doing so and not just for this family but for all who have had home help hours and home care hours cut.
“These cuts came about directly as a result of the €130 million cuts package imposed at the end of August. They are cruel and unnecessary and immoral. They should be reversed in full.”