Disability Federation raises Cuts to Disability Services directly with Minister Reilly

December 16 2011


Press Release 15th December 2011

Earlier this week, John Dolan, Chief Executive of the Disability Federation of Ireland wrote to Minister James Reilly, outlining the very serious impact the of the recent budget statement on people with disability.

In the letter John Dolan stated, "A week on from the Budget and there are more and more indications from across the HSE that there will be overall cuts to disability services of around 5% for the year ahead. This is without taking into account cuts that are to take place in other areas that will make it more difficult for people to protect their health and wellbeing. I know that until you have signed off on the National Service Plan for the HSE that a definitive decision is not made. While we are in the intervening period, and there is still time for pre decision making reflection, I wish to make a few points.
Firstly, the curtailment of cuts in the 2011 health vote to 1.8% for disability and mental health, although welcomed, was still a significant cut given that service needs are rising year on year. The HSE has acknowledged that all those providing services this year worked strongly with the HSE to ensure that any emerging, or intensified, need was responded to.

Secondly, people with disabilities and mental health needs, while being a minority of the population are often recurring or on going users of health and personal social services. Consequently it makes sense to ensure that they get timely and effective interventions at the earliest possible opportunity.

Thirdly, they also make up the general population and so are well exposed to the general cuts taking place across all families and communities. Any cuts to services and supports to this group are coming on top of the cuts already made for people in general. Social solidarity and social inclusion are two of the principles, along with being fair and equal, that Government has committed to in the Programme for Government.

Fourthly, for Government to be “penny wise and pound foolish” is not a sustainable way to proceed. Supports and services that keep people well and able to continue to operate in the community, and with their families, are the best way to reduce demand on high cost hospital and institutional provision. Investing in this area where there are many voluntary organisations that are close to families and that are continually promoting community participation and engagement is the way to maximise outcomes for people while dampening the need for hospital and institutional interventions. I understand that there was a concern expressed in some quarters that the reduced cut to disability this year necessitated greater cuts to hospital services. People with disabilities also strongly rely on services provided by hospitals and don’t see the issue as one against the other. In fact by maximising supports for people in the community there will be reduced demand on hospital services. The best way to assist hospitals is to work to ensure that there is less demand for their services.

Finally, it is now regularly stated, and believed by some, that the problem is the existence of too many voluntary organisations. DFI believes that this argument is way too simplistic, and rather the focus needs to be on how do we maximise the outcomes for people with disabilities using the resources that we have. Attention needs to be paid to the potential that these organisations have to positively influence and support local communities, families and people with disabilities, and the health services in ways that bolster health and wellbeing. These organisations have in the past been pioneers, working tirelessly to ensure that accessible public and private transport, accessible housing and public buildings and facilities were made available to people with disabilities, along with seeking increased income supports and supports for carers. They have taken the issues to a range of government Departments and public bodies to get necessary improvements in areas such as education and training/employment. They routinely, through fundraising and otherwise, secure other resources for the benefit of people to live in the community. Without the work of these organisations, along with the support that they enlist from the public, the burden on health and social services would be much higher and the outcomes way more modest. These organisations should now be seen as a major part of the solution to the continuing difficulties that the State faces in the years to come"


For contact, John Dolan, Chief Executive, 086-8370072
Allen Dunne, Deputy Chief Executive, 086-8502112