News & Media

Kelly Slams Crazy HSE Decision to Cap Home Help Hours

4 June 2019

Statement by Alan Kelly TD
Spokesperson on Health

Labour Health Spokesperson, Alan Kelly TD, has called on Minster Harris to find the resources to increase the number of home help assistance hours. This follows the refusal by the HSE to offer any increase on home help hours for 2019.

Deputy Kelly said:

“The news today that the HSE will provide no increase to the number of home help hours will come as a huge blow to the 6,000 people on waiting lists for these services. It will also cause great disappointment for those desperately trying to get small increases on the hours provided to them.

“This crazy decision flies in the face of all logic. If people cannot get the lower cost option of home help, they will turn to State nursing homes and acute hospitals to provide the care they need for their loved ones, at a greater cost to the public purse.

“The HSE has claimed that it cannot pay home care assistants for the time it takes them to travel to patients, and offer an adequate number of hours. It is ludicrous that the HSE cannot pay staff adequately and at the same time provide necessary services.

“What the HSE is in effect saying is that it wants to operate as a low-cost employer, only paying people on site and not covering the very real cost for workers of travelling between different locations to deliver home-based assistance. This is totally unacceptable for any employer, much less the largest public employer in the State.

“Minster Harris must see this for what it is: a ban on new entrants to the scheme and a failure to cover the full costs of delivering home care. Home help is an essential part of our healthcare system and it can be more cost-effective than either nursing home or hospital care. If the Government is serious about using hospital resources effectively and efficiently, including very expensive acute beds, home care packages need to play a central role in this.

“This refusal by the HSE to increase home help hours will only serve to add more pressure to hospitals. It will also add to the numbers of people forced into nursing homes who want to stay at home, and who could do much better at home.

“In our 2019 Budget submission, Labour proposed to spend €38 million on additional home care and home help packages. The value these services provide to patients and their families cannot be underestimated.”

“I am calling on the Minster to prioritise this issue and if necessary find the additional funding needed to increase the number of home help assistant hours for 2019.”