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Decrease of nearly 15,000 respite sessions for people with disabilities in 2017 - Louise O'Reilly TD

13 December, 2017 - by Louise O'Reilly TD


Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Deputy Louise O’Reilly has said that she is aghast that in spite of rising requests for respite sessions for people with disabilities, the Minister for Health has indicated that there will be nearly 15,000 less respite sessions provided in 2017 than in 2016.

Teachta O’Reilly said:

“We have all read newspaper articles, seen news reports, and watched Primetime programmes in 2017 about the difficulties people with disabilities and their families face in the battle to get respite care.

“Only last week RTÉ Primetime broadcast “Carers in Crisis” which highlighted the difficulties for those who provide care for a family member or loved one face in the absence of adequate care and respite sessions being provided by the state.

“It is therefore beyond belief that in spite if the demand and need for respite sessions increasing across the state this year that the provision of respite sessions has actually decreased by nearly 15,000 sessions on what was provided last year.

“Through a response to a Parliamentary Question I submitted, Minister Harris outlined that there will be an estimated shortfall of 14,293 overnight respite sessions for 2017 compared to what was provided in 2016 and a shortfall of 591 day respite sessions.

The PQ response stated:

  • “The most recent available data from the HSE indicates that for 2016, 175,555 overnight respite sessions and 43,143 day sessions were accessed. It is planned that 161,262 overnight respite sessions will be accessed in 2017. The number of day respite sessions planned is 42,552.”
“This is completely shocking and unacceptable. These hours provide respite to parents and families who have a person in the household with a disability; they are some of the hardest pressed and struggling families in the state, and the evidence shows that this Government is failing them.

“While I welcome yesterday’s announcements that €10million in additional funding will be provided for people with disabilities and carers, the fact is that of the approximately 19,000 respite nights per year that this is to go to providing, it is in fact just an estimated increase of 4,707 respite sessions on what was provided in 2016.

 “The Health Service cannot wait for RTÉ to broadcast a programme to shock the Government into action to do the right thing and increase respite care. What would the case have been if Primetime had not broadcast that programme?

“We need year on year increases to provide for those who currently need respite care as well as those who will need it in the future. 

"The Government cannot slash respite care sessions by nearly 15,000 sessions and expect things to work the same and only increase the hours after their cuts have been exposed on Primetime."

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