There has been a good deal of debate in the House during recent days on the area of home help and the lack of, and curtailment of, home help hours and services throughout the country. There were questions during Leaders' Questions and there was a debate in the House last evening. Despite this, we are still no further on in terms of giving assurance to our constituents and the people we represent that hours will be available to those who need it, patients who need palliative care will have home help, patients who are in hospitals can go home with the assurance that home help hours will be available rather than being left in a hospital bed, or patients who want to stay at home will get the assistance available that is appropriate to their condition rather than what suits some clock-watcher or someone who does not understand the impact of the service.
One thing that has struck me is how the Government does not seem to get the importance of home help. It does not seem to understand the impact that the curtailment and cancellation of hours are having around the country. For every member of the Government, required reading this weekend is Marese McDonagh's piece in The Irish Times from last Monday about the impact in Sligo. It has the testimony of people whose hours are being curtailed and of people who have not got hours. It has the testimony of medical professionals who are seeing the impact of this curtailment and cancellation on their patients and on medical and hospital services.
From having listened to the Taoiseach's response to Deputy Doherty yesterday and having observed the debate last night, the Government does not get it. It does not understand what this is doing to families or patients. The Government is not joining the dots on the impact that the lack of home help services and other community care services is having on the health service generally, on beds and bed management or on waiting lists.
What I am asking for today is not the usual response. The Taoiseach has thrown out figure after figure and money after money. He is going to have a meeting next week. Why next week? This has been an evident problem for weeks. We are all getting emails in our constituency offices from people who were told they were entitled to home help hours but that the HSE does not have them to give. If all these extra resources are going in, why are there 6,000 people on a waiting list? Many thousands of others are not getting the time they need or the hours they require in their homes. They are left at home alone or in hospital beds waiting and families are being forced to pay for highly expensive private services.
I am asking the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment to outline specifically the actions, rather than plámás, the Government will undertake to address the issue of the 6,000 people who are on waiting lists. What can we tell our constituents this weekend? What can doctors tell their patients this weekend about the specific actions the Government will take to try to show that it understands the seriousness of this situation?