Newsletter October 2012
Issued on October 25 2012
Five weeks after the announced €10m cut to PA Services, beyond diverting the cut to apply across the disability programme, the Government does not appear to have considered how such a perverse and drastic decision was allowed to occur. We in the disability sector need to insist on such an evaluation. Humane and effective social policy formulation depends on it.
We are told that the decision was made jointly at the highest level in the HSE and the Department of Health (DOH). This decision was made within six weeks of the publication of the Value for Money and Policy Review of the HSE”s Disability Services Programme, a Review that necessitated on-going high level engagement by the HSE and the DOH in relation to finance, information, policy and service delivery. The Review strongly endorsed person centred services that support independence and autonomy, of which PA services are the outstanding example within the Programme.
Senior representatives from the Disability Unit in the HSE and the Office for Disability and Mental Health in the DOH have confirmed that they had no involvement in the decision-making process for the €10m cut announced at the end of August. Minister of State Kathleen Lynch has also confirmed that she too was not informed. Closing the PA service for the rest of 2012, which the cut would have required, could not have saved the Exchequer €10m; it could not have saved the HSE €10m because people would need supports in home, or require institutional or hospital admission. It would also have made people redundant and so increased costs to the Department of Social Protection.
Leaving aside the huge impact on people with disabilities, and the sense of raw vulnerability that they experienced with the announced cut, it is truly frightening that such a decision could have been contemplated without consideration of its wider impact. There is no sense from all of this that public service reform is seriously underway within the health sector. There seems to have been a panic driven response to the Troika”s stance on the health budget overrun, and the need to get it back in balance by the end of the year. The Oireachtas urgently needs to examine the information management, policy orientation and decision making processes that led to this decision as well as the commitment by Government to implement the National Disability Strategy.
In a related development Minister of State Kathleen Lynch confirmed, at our Pre Budget Forum, that the National Disability Strategy Implementation Plan will not be in place before January next, a month after the Budget. She also stated that she cannot guarantee there will not be further cuts to disability funding in the Budget.
Chief Executive Officer