TD calls for emergeny Dáil debate on plans to slash home help hours

TD calls for emergeny Dáil debate on plans to slash home help hours
Independent TD Denis Naughten

The Dáil must hold an urgent debate on HSE plans to slash new home help hours when it returns on Tuesday amid fears families will be left with "no choice" other than to send their elderly relatives to nursing homes.

Independent TD and former communications minister, Denis Naughten, has demanded the move in a letter to the Dáil's ceann comhairle, Sean Ó Fearghail, saying no other parliamentary work should take place until answers are given.

As revealed by the Irish Examiner this week, the HSE has told officials to block any new home help applications until at least November as part of a fresh series of cost-cutting plans.

The decision, which has been rubber-stamped by the HSE's new director general, Paul Reid, comes at a time when more than 6,000 people are on home help waiting lists.

TD calls for emergeny Dáil debate on plans to slash home help hours

In a hard-hitting letter, Mr Naughten said the blocking of new applications is completely unacceptable and that all Dáil work must be set aside until the Government provides clear answers on what is happening.

Demanding action is taken immediately, Mr Naughten formally asked Dáil ceann comhairle and Fianna Fáil TD Sean Ó Fearghail to allow for the emergency debate, saying elderly people are at risk of needlessly suffering if nothing is done.

"This will have a detrimental impact on the care of older people, people with a disability and their carers, in the community while placing further pressure on acute hospital services by compounding the problem of delayed discharges for hospital. There is now an urgent need for the Minister for Health to directly intervene," he wrote.

It is understood that while no decision will be made until next week, a number of opposition politicians - who potentially hold the balance of power on the matter - are also in favour of an emergency debate taking place.

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