Belfast Telegraph

Taoiseach claims increase in home help hours despite cut by HSE

Leo Varadkar said additional funding in the budget has led to an extra 800,000 home help hours this year.

Leo Varadkar (Brian Lawless/PA)
Leo Varadkar (Brian Lawless/PA)

Leo Varadkar has claimed that funding for home support has not been cut despite a decision by the HSE to slash new home help hours.

The Taoiseach said additional funding in the budget has led to an extra 800,000 home help hours this year.

However, it has emerged that the HSE suspended home help hours to new applicants despite more than 6,000 people waiting to access home care support.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said it will impact the elderly and disabled.

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Mary Lou McDonald (Niall Carson/PA)

Speaking during National Carers Week, she described carers as “everyday heroes”.

She added: “It’s a week in which we acknowledge and recognise the tens of thousands of carers throughout the state for the contribution they make to people’s lives, to families and communities.

“They are everyday heroes without whom many people would not enjoy a decent or a normal life.”

Mc McDonald made the comments during leaders’ questions, adding that the cut in hours will put pressure on hospitals by delaying the discharge of patients.

The HSE confirmed it is to block new applicants between now and early November to balance the budget for this year.

Fine Gael leader Mr Vardakar defended the Government’s treatment of carers, saying that it has made “substantial changes” in recent years.

He told the Dail an extra 30 million euro has been added to the budget which has increased home help hours from 17.5 million to 18.5 million.

“But there is no limit to demand and we have to manage in our means and make sure we come in on budget,” he added.

“There is an extra 30 million and that will provide an extra 800,000 home help hours this year.”

Ms McDonald challenged the claim that the cuts are to balance the budget, saying it was a “false economy”.

“Home help allows older people to remain in their homes or to be safely discharged from hospital,” she said.

“Patients are being forced to stay in hospital at a huge cost to the HSE or else families are forced (to pay) privately for home care support.

“There are people who want to go home and can go home but this isn’t the case. Despite a budget increase of 10 million for this year the number of hours being provided is simply not enough.”

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