Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Questions (263)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

263. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health his views the implications of the funding cut to St. Michael's House, as outlined by its directors, including the reduction in staffing across the organisation in day services, clinical services and administration, contraction of residential and respite services, closure of residential services for one Sunday each month, cessation of rent subsidy, cessation of the trainee allowance, reductions in transport, no new residential places or long-term respite and reduced day service for school and training centre leavers; if he has met the directors and the relevant Health Service Executive officials to discuss the matter; and if he will make special budgetary provision or take other steps to avert the crisis. [41336/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

St Michael's House received over €70 million in 2012 in funding from the HSE to provide a range of services to approximately 1,660 children and adults with an intellectual disability in over 170 centres in the Greater Dublin Area and Navan Co. Meath.

The HSE and St Michael's House work in close collaboration with regard to the funding and delivery of services to people with an intellectual disability. As a voluntary agency, St Michael’s house are obliged to work within the resources available to them and in that regard have introduced significant efficiencies over recent years to remain within budget. The HSE has advised that these changes to date have not resulted in service contraction.

The Haddington Road Agreement (HRA) sets out measures relating to productivity, cost extraction and reform which together intends to achieve a required pay bill reduction of €150m identified in the HSE Service Plan 2013. The agreement provides a framework and opportunities for managers within the health services, including agencies such as St Michael's House, to reduce their costs associated with agency and overtime and a wide range of other pay costs, particularly through measures such as additional working hours and revised rates in respect of overtime.

The HSE has advised the Department of Health that the recent application of additional budget cuts under the HRA has presented a significant challenge to St Michael's House. A process is now underway between the HSE and St Michael’s House to identify the impact of these budget reductions on services. In this respect, I understand that the following are under discussion:

- St. Michael’s House proposal of Sunday closing and revised transport arrangements are under consideration in consultation with those families who may be in a position to accommodate this.

- the HSE are unaware of any issues concerning respite.

- appropriate staffing levels and skill mix are under consideration in line with HRA.

- patient charges are being reviewed by St. Michael’s House in line with national regulations.

The HSE are working with St. Michael’s House and other service providers to fully address the needs of school leavers in 2013 by reconfiguring existing resources.

The Department of Health has received assurances from the HSE that both organisations are committed to working within the terms of the HRA to ensure that services are impacted upon only as a measure of last resort.