Harney under pressure to reinstate frontline services

FRESH pressure was heaped on Health Minister Mary Harney last night to guarantee the reinstatement of services for people with intellectual disabilities.

The Galway-based Hope 4 Disability group has been seeking to galvanise support in the face of extra budgetary cuts that have affected at least 300 service users in the west.

Yesterday the group said it wanted a clear commitment that there would be no further cuts to frontline services.

The call comes just days after thousands took to the streets of Dublin and Galway to protest against the cuts introduced by the HSE.

Meanwhile, on a visit to the Daughters of Charity service in Dublin — one of the main groups affected by cuts — Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said the current situation was “an indictment of a government that has lost its ability to be really caring, and they cannot see the folly of their ways”.

Yesterday Hope 4 Disability said there was now confusion and uncertainty over what exactly the Government and the HSE have committed to and that Taoiseach Brian Cowen, Health Minister Mary Harney and Minister with Responsibility for Disability Services, John Moloney, had all said that frontline services, such as respite care, would not be cut.

However, the group said respite had already been affected, while other cuts are still possible.

It added that day services had been affected and that in some cases people had been forced to move to more crowded accommodation.

Many service providers face fresh meetings with local HSE health officers this week in a bid to retain existing services and avoid future staff lay-offs which could further impinge on patient care.

In recent weeks hundreds of angry protesters marched on health authority offices in Galway, while others campaigned in Castlebar for retention of services there.

The Brothers of Charity have borne the brunt of cuts in the west and the organisation has said it has been informed there are to be further shortfalls to its budget.


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