Kathleen Lynch TD, Minister of State with responsibility for Disability Services has moved to reassure those receiving support from Wisdom Services at Cregg House, Co Sligo of a continued service.
The Minister said “I would like to reassure the families of the children and adults of people with disabilities who are currently receiving services that their service will continue to be provided. I am requesting the HSE to work with Wisdom Services to ensure continuity of service for all clients while a transition process is being put in place. I understand that Wisdom Services have written to families of service users and to staff, to reassure them of their co-operation in this process.”
The Minister went on to say “I am very disappointed to learn that the Daughters of Wisdom, who operate Wisdom Services, have advised the HSE that they intend to withdraw from the provision of services on behalf of the HSE in Sligo. The HSE have been working with Wisdom Services for some time to address their financial concerns and identify opportunities for efficiencies and savings, through potential new combinations of service delivery in the north-west area. Unfortunately despite detailed engagement with the HSE, I regret that Wisdom Services has now decided to withdraw from service provision.”
However many political representatives have remained intensely critical of the Minister and the HSE’s handling of the situation.
Speaking in the Dail last week, Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children, Deputy Charlie McConalogue said the treatment of the Daughters of Wisdom and the users of Cregg House was ‘a national scandal’.
“This critically important service is at risk because the as the Government is not prepared to provide sufficient funding,” said Deputy McConalogue.
“It is very suspicious that Wisdom Services have, following a process of negotiations with the HSE, confirmed that they cannot stand over the continuing underfunding of the Cregg House service relative to other comparable service operated by the HSE directly. Why would there be a conscious decision to deplete funding being provided by the Daughters of Wisdom particularly when they have served the community for the last 60 years?
“We all know that efficiencies are necessary and that more must be achieved with less resources. But the obvious underfunding of essential front line services the North West by this Government is simply indefensible, and should be immediately reversed.”
Fianna Fáil Seanad Spokesperson on Health Senator Marc Mac Sharry has called on the Minister for Health James Reilly, Minister Kathleen Lynch and The Taoiseach to immediately intervene.
Senator MacSharry concluded: “having first raised this issue in April I will be again making contact with the office of Minister’s Reilly, Lynch and the Taoiseach in an attempt to have them intervene directly to ensure the provision of fair and adequate resources for the continued provision of services by the daughters of Wisdom at Cregg House. Underfunding & cuts on the scale that are being proposed are not acceptable.”
Deputy Michael Colreavy, Sinn Fein TD for Sligo/North Leitrim said he was disappointed that talks had broken down between the Management of Cregg House, Sligo and the HSE.
Speaking on the issue, Deputy Colreavy said: “Sinn Féin has consistently warned that the constant cutting of healthcare resources would inevitably lead to a situation where services would have to be cut below an acceptable level. There is much distress among the patients of Cregg House and their families over the current situation.”
“The HSE must now step up to mark and take full responsibility for Cregg House. I hope that there will be a positive outcome to the situation. However, the handling of the Cregg House issue by the HSE has, so far, been a failure. The patients of Cregg House should be a priority and the high standard of service that has been provided by the Daughters of Wisdom must be continued by the HSE.”
Independent MEP Marian Harkin when she called on the Minister for Health to publish the report which analysed the relative costs involved in the services provided by Cregg House and the HSE which she believes demonstrates that Cregg House provides better value for money.
She said:- “My understanding is that the report which was compiled following weeks of discussion, confirms that Cregg House was considerably underfunded compared with equivalent HSE services. There was significant difference in cost per service user in regard to comparable facilities and services.
“In view of what I believe is in this report, how can the HSE now say that services will not be affected if they do not intend to increase spending when increased cost is inevitable. What was the point of the recent assessment if the outcomes were not to inform decisions. If decisions had already been taken what was the point in having discussions with Cregg House. In this regard the concern of the HSE that other service providers might seek additional funds if the deserved increase was given to Cregg House says little for the ability of the HSE to arrive at decisions which are best for service users, and in line with the Government’s value for money policy.”
Fine Gael Deputy for Sligo/North Leitrim, Tony McLoughlin said he had received a firm commitment that services will continue at Cregg House and that there should be no undue worry on behalf of either the service users or their families that there would be any change that will affect the services as they currently stand.
“I can assure the people concerned that I will monitor this issue very closely and will remain in contact with the HSE and the Minister through the transition period and beyond to ensure that the service users at Cregg House continue to have the necessary supports and services in the future,” he said.