Figures show 200 per cent decline in home help hours in Longford/Westmeath constituency

Liam Cosgrove

Reporter:

Liam Cosgrove

Email:

liam.cosgrove@longfordleader.ie

Longford/Westmeath TD Robert Troy welcomes suspension of Bus Éireann strike

The HSE and government have come under stinging fire this week after new figures revealed a more than 200 per cent drop in home help hours. 

Statistics released to the Leader show there are now over 230,000 less home help hours available in Longford and Westmeath than there were six years previously.
In 2011, both counties boasted 333,335 funded hours between them.
By the end of May this year, that figure had fallen to just 100,528, a reduction which is likely to heap further pressure on the HSE and Minister for Health Simon Harris.
Longford/Westmeath TD Robert Troy, who obtained the figures, bemoaned how older people were being made to suffer from financial cutbacks.
He said despite highlighting the topic in the Dail on numerous occasions over the years, the dilemma is one which has continued to fester.


“I hear it regularly from the clinics I hold of people not being able to get additional home help hours and others who may have been approved the extra hours but not actually being in a position to get the hours sanctioned,” he said.
“The way in which older people are being treated is very regrettable and is an area we need to see a major improvement in,” he said.
The Fianna Fáil spokesperson for Transport, Tourism and Sport was quick to discredit any notions that the cuts were down to a lack of staff and agency personnel on the ground.
Likewise, Mr Troy rounded on more admissable claims that the cuts were a consequence of financial constraints.
Those fears had stemmed largely as a result of the publication of the HSE's Service Plan which indicated a fall-off of around 250,000 home help hours in 2017.
Minister of State with responsibility for disability issues Finian McGrath had attempted to allay any misgivings over cuts to home help back in December.
That intervention was made in a bid to clear up any misunderstanding which had arisen from a budget overrun in 2016 between the targeted amount of personal assistant and home help hours to be provided and what was actually delivered by the HSE.
Mr Troy said regardless of what soundings were coming from government circles, the statistics were clear for all to see.
“The figures speak for themselves,” he defiantly put it.
“And the reality of the matter is people need home help in order to stay in their homes.”
The Ballynacargy postmaster didn't stop there, saying the cuts were also eating into the State's financial reserves.
“Everyone's house is their castle and most people want to stay in their home for as long as possible.
“What this is doing though is it's forcing more and more people into long term residential care,” he said.
Given recent census figures which indicated the constituency's age profile was in keeping with an ageing national demographic, Mr Troy blasted the cuts as “morally wrong”.
He said: “This is nothing short of a cost cutting measure and a cost saving measure by the HSE.
“And the worrying thing about it is the Government are aware of it and are standing over it.”