The Rehab Group has put a temporary stay on its plan to notify the HSE of its intention to pull the plug on vital care services to see if a solution to its funding crisis can be found.
In a statement last night, the Rehab Group said it was commiting to a week of “intense discussions” with the HSE in a bid to seek a resolution.
It emerged yesterday that the group was preparing to teminate all care contracts with the HSE with a potentially massive fallout for the thousands availing of vital respite and residential care services.
The group was due to give notice to the HSE today that it would terminate its services in 12 months time, saying it could not continue to function without an additional €2m per annum “to bridge an unsustainable deficit”.
Following a meeting with Health Minister Simon Harris and the minister of state for disability, Finian McGrath, last night, the group said it was deferring any action to facilitate talks with the HSE in the hope of a breakthrough before meeting again with Mr Harris next Tuesday.
“Rehab will meet Minister Harris again on May 15 at which point we hope a solution will have been identified which will safeguard these critical services for the 3000 people in our care, and our 1,500 staff,” the group said in a statement.
The Department of Health said:
Fianna Fáil’s spokeswoman on disability, Margaret Murphy O’Mahony, said it seemed that Rehab had been seeking a meeting with Mr Harris for months but had been “snubbed” until now.
“This is completely unacceptable and now the future of these essential services is under threat,” said Ms Murphy O’Mahony.
The Rehab Group provides 147 services in 26 counties to 3,000 adults and children with disabilities. It includes day services for more than 1,600 adults along with supported accommodation services, allowing hundreds of people to live independently in their communities.
The group said the reasons for its funding deficit were “manifold”, including the higher cost of caring for an ageing population of service users, the “burgeoning” costs of meeting new Hiqa and HSE regulatory requirements, a massive hike in insurance costs, as well as the removal of additional HSE funding to cover inflation in 2010.
Last November some of the largest not-for-profit disability groups, including Rehab, claimed they were being coerced by the HSE “to present an image of a break-even service” even when they were clearly operating at a deficit.
A report commissioned by Rehab said the sector had been underfunded for more than a decade, while also expected to meet growing levels of compliance and regulation. In December, a coalition of disability charities said the sector was “at breaking point” and called for urgent action.