Government has to step up now and ensure disability services are not disrupted - Dr Emer Begley's letter in the Irish Independent

August 26 2023, 09:22am

Indo Letter Headline

Letter in today’s Irish Independent (Saturday 26 August 2023) from our Director of Advocacy and Inclusion Dr Emer Begley

Government has to step up now and ensure disability services are not disrupted

I would like to add my thoughts to Anne-Marie Walsh’s article (August 23) in which Patrick Griffin outlined his experience working in the disability sector in a Section 39-funded organisation.

Mr Griffin’s story is replicated across the country as 70pc of all disability community services are provided by voluntary organisations, and the value of their contribution is well documented by successive governments and senior civil and public servants.

However, these essential services are being threatened by a recruitment and retention crisis, exacerbated by insufficient pay and working conditions in Section 39-funded organisations, where funding and pay cuts during the financial crisis have never been restored. As a result, they cannot compete with the significantly better pay and conditions available for similar roles in the public service.

A survey of our members earlier this year found 71pc of organisations had lost experienced staff to the public sector, 57pc had lost experienced staff to the private sector and 43pc had lost experienced staff to non-healthcare-related posts.

In the intervening months, this situation has deteriorated, and this is having a devastating impact on delivery of supports, leading to disruption, lack of continuity of care and, in some cases, the handing back of services to the HSE.

Urgent government action is required to address this situation.

Dr Emer Begley, Disability Federation of Ireland, Dublin 8

Link to the letters page