St Christopher’s Longford demand meeting over €2 million underfunding crisis

Longford Leader Reporter

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Longford Leader Reporter

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St Christophers

St Christopher's Services in Longford town

Longford based and well renowned Disability Services, St Christopher's Services, has issued a demand for an urgent meeting with Minister for Health Simon Harris and Minister of State for Disability Finian McGrath to discuss the ongoing underfunding of services to the tune of €2 million euro.

Speaking following issuing the request for the meeting, Chief Executive Officer, Derek Scanlon urged the Ministers “to come to the table to discuss the shortfall in funding within our services”.

This request follows from the recent success of the Rehab group in demanding and being afforded a meeting with the Ministers in recent days. Derek Scanlon says only one portion of the underfunding has been provided thus far.

Mr Scanlon continued “Minister Harris visited our services in September 2017 and gave us a commitment to ensure that adequate funding would be provided for the long term security of services but to date only one portion of the underfunding has been provided for and there remains a further underfunding of €2 million annually plus an underlying debt of €1 million from previous year’s underfunding”

Mr Scanlon says they can barely maintain the services as a result.

“At present we can barely maintain the services we are providing and we are not providing the best service that we can to our service users and will struggle to continue to provide services into the future.

“As an example we have access to a psychologist for 2 days a month yet there is a need for two full time posts within our service alone. This month the Social Worker attached to our service retires and there is no line of sight on the recruitment of a replacement because of the recruitment freeze in the HSE.” Derek Scanlon added.

Additionally Mr Scanlon noted “For years our service masked the underfunding of our disability service with a bank overdraft until our Bank said “no more”. The HSE and Department of Health have not engaged to assist us in reducing this debt although it amounts to 10% of our annual budget.”

Scanlon concluded by calling on the government and the HSE to address these issues immediately.

Mr Scanlon concluded, “The annual underfunding of our service at €2 million euro equates to 500 times the overspend of €1 billion euro on the National Children’s Hospital.

“In order words we could provide a world class disability service to our services users for the next 500 years with this money if the State’s finances had been handled more carefully. This underfunding is systemic within Disability Services and needs to be addressed by the Government and the HSE immediately”.

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