The Rathfredagh Cheshire Home in Newcastlewest was established in 1971. Over the years, it has been highly respected because of the level of care and the commitment of the staff. The residents are primarily those with multiple sclerosis, car accident injuries and those who have been disabled since birth. There are 28 residents in total with an additional two places for respite care with a potential for further places. The 35 staff, most of whom work part-time and who have worked there over many years, have had to put up with salary scales and premiums which are seriously deficient compared to staff working within the health board.
I am aware the Mid-Western Health Board has approached the Department of Health and Children to provide additional funding. In 1997 the board agreed to enhance the salaries and premiums over a three year period. In 1997 £20,000 for a half year was provided. In 1998 the Mid-Western Health Board's costs will be £56,000. It has allocated £40,000 and there is a shortfall of £16,000. In 1999 and 2000 Mid-Western Health Board budgets, £40,000 has been allocated for each, but there will still be a shortfall of £64,000 and £94,000 respectively.
The objective of the phased agreement over three years was to ensure the staff would be paid at the correct point of the scale with appropriate premium payments. It is vital the Department of Health and Children ensures the appropriate financial allocation is made to the Mid-Western Health Board. It must be ensured that the staff at Rathfredagh Cheshire Home are fully recognised for the great work they do. It is now a matter of urgency that the Department of Health and Children provides the funding and I call on the Minister to ensure this happens.