Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Questions (422, 423, 429, 431, 432, 435, 446, 455)

John Brassil

Question:

422. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Health when the HSE will communicate with persons on waiting lists to advise them that new and additional hours are suspended; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25329/19]

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John Brassil

Question:

423. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Health the other services being funded from the homecare budget that are not related to the homecare service or direct homecare client hours; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25330/19]

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John Brassil

Question:

429. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Health the homecare hours being delivered for the HSE by third party private providers; the cost of the provision in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25339/19]

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John Brassil

Question:

431. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Health the examination carried out to ensure compliance to the promise of equity by the HSE when allocating homecare hours to persons awaiting discharge from acute hospital beds versus the community waiting list; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25341/19]

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John Brassil

Question:

432. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Health the services, both pay and non-pay, being funded from the homecare budget that are not directly related to the homecare service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25344/19]

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John Brassil

Question:

435. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Health the number of home support hours allocated to persons in acute hospital beds in each of the years 2015 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25351/19]

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John Brassil

Question:

446. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Health when the HSE plans to communicate with healthcare support assistants in relation to the embargo on new and additional hours; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25368/19]

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John Brassil

Question:

455. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Health the reason healthcare support assistants were informed regarding the embargo on the delivery of a new or additional home support hours through the media; the reason the HSE did not communicate this decision with its staff; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25425/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 422, 423, 429, 431, 432, 435, 446 and 455 together.

Home supports enable older people to remain in their own homes and communities, as well as facilitating timely discharge from hospital. The Government has made improved access to home support services a priority. This is reflected in the ongoing additional investment made in these services in recent years with the budget growing from €306 million in 2015 to almost €446 million in 2019. That is about a 45% increase in the annual budget for home support.

In 2018, the total budget for the service was €416.8 million, providing over 17.5 million hours. This year the HSE intends to provide over 18.2 million home support hours, including intensive home care packages, to over 53,000 people. In 2019 almost €30 million has been added to the home support budget. When one looks at the year-on-year targets, this means that this year’s National Service Plan aims to deliver about 800,000 more hours than the 2018 target.

To achieve compliance with its funding allocation, the HSE must ensure that the value of the total number of hours provided does not exceed the budget. This means that the HSE must manage its service delivery over the course of the year to align with the total funding available. It also has a responsibility to ensure that activity is planned to anticipate critical demand pressures, most particularly emergency pressures in the initial and latter parts of the year.

It is not correct to say that no new clients will be allocated home supports for the next five months. The allocation of new hours will be based on clients’ needs and the resources available. Recycling of hours will continue in line with normal budgetary management. While the existing home support service is delivering crucial support to many people across the country, the Government fully accepts that it needs to be further improved to better meet the changing needs of our citizens.

It is for that reason that the Department is progressing the development of a new statutory scheme and system of regulation for home support services. The Sláintecare Implementation Strategy commits to the introduction of the new scheme in 2021.

The level of funding that will be available for the HSE in 2020 will be considered as part of the national Estimates and budgetary process for 2019.

As the Deputy has raised a number of service matters I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.