Taoiseach challenged at leaders questions over home-help cuts and privatisation
Home help cuts reveal privatisation as real government agenda for health services
At leader’s questions in the Dail today, Richard Boyd Barrett TD challenged Taoiseach Enda Kenny over further government cuts in home-help hours for the elderly and disabled, and moves to privatise the provision of help-help services. (Click HERE or on image opposite for video of Dail speech)
In the recently announced €1.3m budget cut Minister James Reilly cut home-help services by 600,000 hours. This comes on top of previous cuts of 500,000 hours earlier in the year.
Minister Reilly has also moved to outsource home-help services to “for profit” private and multi-national companies, where these services were previously supplied by “not for profit” voluntary and community organisations.
Deputy Boyd Barrett is involved in supporting a campaign by home-helps and service users recently established to oppose the cuts and moves towards privatisation and brought 40-50 home-helps into the Dail public gallery today to view the exchange between himself and the Taoiseach on the issue.
Deputy Boyd Barrett claimed in the Dail that the cuts in home-help hours and the moves to privatise home-help services represented a “despicable attack on the elderly and the disabled and on the pay and conditions of the already low paid home-help workers who provide those services.”
Deputy Boyd Barrett informed the Taoiseach of the presence of home helps in the public gallery and invited him and any interested member of the press to a meeting of the home-helps taking place at 4pm in the Earl of Kildare Hotel on Kildare St.
Deputy Boyd Barrett said the government should tackle the issue of the outrageous prices being charged by drug companies for generic drugs and the practice of consultants paid with public money doing private work in public hospitals, instead of attacking the services the elderly and the disabled.
Deputy Boyd Barrett said: “These disgraceful cuts and moves to privatise home-help will cause suffering and hardship for the elderly and the disabled citizens, and the home-help workers who look after them.
It will also probably not save any money for the state because more of these elderly and disabled people will require residential and nursing home care which costs in the region of €4000 per week – putting more pressure on the public health system
Yet there are some who will benefit from these policies. Private health providers, like the Multinational Comfort Keepers, who recently received a major contract for home-help services from the HSE will benefit, and, of course, they will benefit the owners of private nursing homes.
It is utterly despicable that yet again this government is targeting our most vulnerable citizens – the elderly and the disabled – but positively championing the interests of private companies that see the needs and suffering of vulnerable citizens as an opportunity to make profit.
The fact that this government is willing to impose these cuts on the old and the disabled rather than tackle the outrageous prices being charged by drug companies to the HSE for generic drugs, or to tackle the issue of consultants to doing private work in public hospitals, while being paid a public sector salary, is all evidence of the distorted priorities of this government when it comes to health.
It defies belief that the government and Dr James Reilly can describe their policies as “reform” of the health system.” This not reform of the health system. This is a systematic de-grading and carve-up of the public health system, in order to benefit private “for profit” interests.”