Thursday, 28 November 2019

Questions (166)

Róisín Shortall


166. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to a group (details supplied) and its campaign to eliminate deficits for section 39 organisations in the adoption of the recommendations of the independent review group in the sector and to fund the full restoration of pay for the organisations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49574/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Section 39 Agencies which provide services for people with a disability, do so on a contract for services basis with the HSE. Service Level Agreements are set out between the HSE and the individual organisations.  I understand that some Section 39 organisations, which provide specialist disability services, have raised concerns about their financial sustainability with the HSE.  The HSE has assured my Department that it is committed to working intensively with such organisations to support them, as appropriate, to address such issues in the context of the service level agreement process.

In relation to the issue of pay restoration raised by the Deputy, an agreement was reached in 2019 at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) between my Department, the HSE and health sector Trade Unions in relation to a process aimed at resolving the pay restoration issue for staff employed by section 39 bodies in 50 pilot organisations.  

Pay restoration for these bodies commenced in April of this year with further payments due in 2020 and 2021 as appropriate. It is recognised that some of the remaining Section 39 organisations are also likely to have pay restoration issues. I can confirm that this issue in being progressed by the parties at the Workplace Relations Commission. 

As the Deputy will be aware, the Independent Review Group on the role of voluntary organisations in the health and social care sector contained a broad range of recommendations in its report, including in relation to deficits in some voluntary organisations.  I am currently giving consideration to these recommendations. 

More generally, the Independent Review Group recommended a strengthening of the relationship between voluntary organisations and the State.  In this regard, I have established a dialogue forum as recommended by its report and the first meeting will take place next week.