Conway-Walsh highlights past cuts in home help hours as root of current crisis
Speaking in a debate on a Fianna Fáil motion to increase home help hours to dementia sufferers, Sinn Féin Senator Rose Conway-Walsh strongly criticised those responsible for the massive cuts to the number of home help hours in the past ten years for creating a crisis which has affected the entire healthcare system in Mayo.
Senator Conway-Walsh said:
“Sinn Féin wants to see the restoration of home help hours. I, and the community and county I come from, find it hard to believe that Fianna Fáil have the political will to ever do this. Between 31 August 2009 and 31 August 2010, in Mayo alone, Fianna Fáil cut 32,000 hours of home help from the most severely disadvantaged and vulnerable people across the county. They knew at the time that this move was devastating. There were doctors, nurses and community groups saying in the most clear manner that these cuts would result in misery for individuals and cause chaos in the wider health system.
“At the same time that home help hours for the most vulnerable were cut, the people who provide this vital service were treated appallingly. They privatised the home help system, sacked swathes of home help workers, put them into private care and told them that they could no longer work under the HSE. We need to recognise the importance of the work of home carers. They do so much to help in the running of the health service under difficult and challenging circumstances. They should be paid well and their hours and conditions should make it an attractive career option. In the future the need for such expertise and vocational care will only increase.
“The task for the Government is clear. The Minister of State and his Government are now responsible for providing adequate resources to ensure the immediate implementation of the national dementia strategy. They must do that as a matter of urgency. They must reverse the cuts that were made by Fianna Fáil. Resources have to be put in immediately to protect the most vulnerable in our society. What does it say about us as a country and as a Republic if we fail to provide for this most basic of rights?”