Last Friday, I was in the National Rehabilitation Hospital on Rochestown Avenue, which is in my constituency of Dún Laoghaire. I met there two young men, both of whom are paralysed from the neck down. In both cases the paralysis is the result of diving accidents. One young man was diving into a swimming pool when on holiday in the United States while the other hit a sandbank when diving into the sea in Australia.
The two young men were due to be discharged from the National Rehabilitation Hospital 18 months ago. The discharge from the hospital was first delayed because two bungalows being built for the young men, through Cheshire homes, were delayed due to a problem in the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. That was eventually solved and the two bungalows were ready for occupation at the beginning of this year. However, the young men cannot now be discharged from the hospital because the Health Service Executive has not provided the money it had originally promised to employ the carers the two men will require to live independently in the bungalows.
My colleague, Deputy McManus, raised this issue on the Adjournment last Thursday. She was told by the Minister of State, Deputy Hoctor, that the funding for additional services for people with a disability is under review in the context of the Health Service Executive's overall service levels and funding position for this year. The money for the carers for these young men was provided in 2007 but, as the bungalows were not completed in that year, it could not be drawn down. However, now that the bungalows are completed, the money is not available for the carers. The result is that the two young men are in the hospital for 18 months longer than necessary. It is cruelty to have them confined to a hospital when they should be outside, living independently. Two beds in a hospital that is hard to get into are being occupied unnecessarily, while two bungalows built with taxpayers' money are lying idle in Greystones because the money to engage the carers has not been provided by the Health Service Executive even though it was previously promised.
I raise this with the Taoiseach for two reasons. First, I want something to be done.I appreciate I am putting it to the Taoiseach cold this afternoon. I want something done to get the two men discharged from hospital and into these bungalows with the Health Service Executive providing the funding, as it should be doing. Second, I raise it because it is not an isolated problem. We had a similar example on RTE's "Morning Ireland" this morning and my colleague, Deputy Shortall, raised an issue at the Committee of Public Accounts last week about three houses in Castlepollard, County Westmeath, which have been idle for seven years because the necessary funding has not been provided to enable the people concerned to take up occupation. Again, those are examples of where the right hand of the HSE does not appear to know what the left hand is doing.
I have two questions for the Taoiseach. Can he assure me that somebody in Government will take action to get the pieces of this pulled together so that those two men can come out of hospital to the bungalows that were built for them? Will the wider problem of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing be resolved at some stage in the HSE?