Funding row hits support for homeless

A PSYCHIATRIST chosen to work with homeless people in Dublin has had his job offer withdrawn because of a row over funding.

The surprise move by the Health Service Executive Northern Area comes just a week after three homeless people were found dead on the streets of the capital.

It is believed the consultant had sought a number of specific supports to help in his role, but it is believed HSE Northern Area management said their budget could not stretch this far. The post would have involved dealing with the mental health needs of up to 1,000 people.

It is understood that Minister for Health Mary Harney was informed of the difficulties surrounding the appointment, according to the Irish Medical Times. The lack of psychiatric resources in north inner city Dublin has long been highlighted.

As anger at the plight of the homeless grows, dozens of homeless people are planning sleeping outside the Dáil tonight in protest at the lack of investment in homelessness.

The sleep-out is organised by the anti-poverty newspaper, Street Seen.

A spokesman said: “There have been several deaths amongst the homeless community ultimately resulting in the launch of this campaign.

“The homeless community has met nothing more than indifference from the Government. After years of economic prosperity it is a disturbing direction that this Government is taking us in.”

Meanwhile, the HSE has been strongly criticised for its failure to fill a breast surgeon position that has been vacant for nine months and which is unlikely to be filled for another year.

Consultant surgeon Finbarr Lennon said the failure to advertise for and fill the post at Our Lady’s Hospital in Drogheda was “unacceptable” and “unjustifiable”.

He added that “management’s inaction is totally unacceptable and has put the status of the unit at risk”.

Mr Lennon said that despite the increased workload and pressure on staff, quality assurance guidelines were being met but that “one surgeon is not satisfactory at all”.

It could take another year for the post to be filled due to the length of time it takes for consultants to move between contracts.

A spokeswoman for the HSE said the post had been referred to the Public Appointments Service.

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