St John of God defers plan to transfer services to HSE

St John of God defers plan to transfer services to HSE

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said the 'decision will avoid the disruption of key services for service users and their families'. Picture: Larry Cummins

St John of God Community Services has deferred its plan to transfer intellectual disabilities and mental health services to the HSE at the end of next month.

They have instead entered an assessment process with the HSE which will last until December 2022.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly welcomed this decision, saying it provides a basis for both organisations to strengthen services.

Mr Donnelly said: “This decision will avoid the disruption of key services for service users and their families.” He said the process is the basis for discussion.

“We owe it to our service users to do all we can to ensure that our services are delivered in line with strong governance mechanisms in a cost-effective and equitable manner consistent with care and support needs,” Mr Donnelly said.

Minister of state for disabilities Anne Rabbitte also welcomed an end to the months of uncertainty for families.

“I am delighted that the HSE and St John of God Community Services have reached agreement,” she said.

“On a process which aims to ensure the financial stability and sustainability and improved governance of the vital disability and mental health services provided across the country by St John of God Community Services.”

The services provide intellectual disability and mental health care to more than 8,000 people and employ 3,000 people in 300 locations across Kerry, Wicklow, Dublin, Kildare, Meath, and Louth.

Last year, they announced a plan to transfer these responsibilities to the HSE, saying they were significantly under-funded including an accumulated deficit at that time of €37.7m.

However, today a spokesman for St John of God Community Services confirmed this plan is now deferred.

He said: “The notice of termination is deferred to enable St John of God Community Services to participate with the HSE on the completion of a Sustainability Impact Assessment.” 

This will include working out a plan for sustainable delivery and development of services, and agreeing a funding model, he said.

The spokesman said they hope to continue as “a long term provider of high-quality intellectual disability and mental health services.” 

A letter sent to staff by the chief executive of St John of God Community Services ,Clare Dempsey, seen by the Irish Examiner, says the process will include a plan to address the deficit.

The letter says the assessment will last until December 2022, and means “funding arrangements will be established to enable us to continue to provide and further develop our services.” Ms Dempsey wrote this process was requested by the Department of Health.

However, she sounded a note of caution to staff. She wrote: “While we potentially stand on the cusp of a new beginning for Saint John of God Community Services, a great deal of work has yet to be done on both sides in order for us to achieve that desired outcome.” 

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