Newsletter June / July 2011
Issued on July 11 2011
There has been a lot of activity over recent months in the HSE, with the development of National Consultative Fora, the establishment of the steering group looking at Universal Access to health services and the publication of the Congregated Settings Report.
The National Consultative Fora have been developed by Cate Hartigan, Assistant Director of Disability, to replace the previous consultation fora that were set up following the publication of ‘Enhancing the Partnership’ and ‘Towards an Independent Future’. The previous fora included Regional Development and Consultative Committees for services to Persons with Intellectual Disabilities, and Regional Co-ordinating Committee for services to People with Physical and Sensory disabilities. They were established at Health Board level, as resources were allocated on this basis.
The new consultative fora will be established over the coming months at local, regional and national levels. The National Committee has already met twice, and its work is progressing.
Complementary to the work of this group, the HSE is looking at universal access to health services. Part 3 of the Disability Act 2005 requires the HSE to develop structures and systems to ensure that its mainstream services are fully accessible to people with disabilities. Specifically, the act requires that all aspects of healthcare, including information provision, consultations and all forms of communications and service delivery to patients/service users, are fully accessible to people with disabilities. A working group has been created to look at this issue.
The report on congregated settings, ‘Time to Move on From Congregated Settings’, was also published this month. This is a very significant report which looks at a change programme for moving people from congregated settings into the community, in line with Government policy. The report recommends a seven year phased closure of congregated settings, with individuals actively supported to live full, inclusive lives at the heart of the family, community and society. This entails access to mainstream facilities, such as housing, social life, education and work, with specialist support as required. Further details on this report can be found in an article further on in this Newsletter.
While all of this good work is going on in the disability arena, there are a number of areas of concern.
The HSE Performance Report, published in June, with information to the end of April 2011, also highlighted that 751 Assessments of Need for children aged 0-5, with disabilities, were overdue for completion. The Performance Report stated that the HSE had an over-spend of €184 million. The Minister for Health has written to the CEO of the HSE informing him that the Executive must break even by the end of this year. The bulk (€100m) of the over-spend is in the hospitals, but this will adversely affect people with disabilities as elective surgeries are cancelled and A&E hours are cut. While we understand the need for the HSE to break even, it must be done without affecting services to people with disabilities.
While we recognise that there is on-going work in the HSE to advance a number of priorities for people with disabilities, we are cognisant of the fact that issues in other areas of the HSE will affect people with disabilities and their carers too.
DFI is active in engaging with the emerging representation structures for disability in the HSE and will continue to work towards protecting disability resources.