The Psychiatric Nurses’ Association made the claim after senior management in HSE Dublin Mid-Leinster cut agency worker numbers in half in a bid to curb the service’s runaway budget.
The move, which could save €200,000, has seen the number of agency workers in the outreach service fall from 16 to eight. While exact cuts for addiction clinics — set up 12 years ago as one-stop shops for treatment — in other HSE regions have not yet been announced, the Dublin Mid-Leinster change is expected to be repeated elsewhere shortly.
Agency cutbacks in the specialist service of “up to” 50% were suggested in the HSE’s national service plan in January but management chose not to impose them.
However, the PNA was told last week that due to the chronic financial problems facing the system, this stance has been dropped — with the agency reduction being imposed yesterday.
PNA national secretary Peter Hughes said the move would cause havoc, a charge denied by the HSE, which said the changes would not impact on patient care, or pose a potential risk to addicts seeking help for their issues.
The latest cutback came as a shelter housing group for older people put forward money-saving alternatives it said would end the need to cut home help services.
The Clúid organisation has proposed an “extra care housing” model to allow older people to continue living at home instead of in institutions — saving the State €700 per older person every week.
The group said this new service would cost the country €195 per person per week, far lower than the €900 cost of resident care or the €6,000 cost of hospital care.