Richard Boyd Barrett says despicable cuts to home-help hours for elderly and disabled exposes privatisation agenda behind government talk of health “reform.”
In a statement Richard Boyd Barrett TD, People Before Profit/ULA has called for the public to support a demonstration called by the Home Help/Home Care Action Group – a group established by home-help workers over recent weeks – which will assemble at 3pm tomorrow (Oct 17th) at the Spire at O’ Connell St, Dublin,before marching to Dáil Eireann.
The protest is calling for a reversal of more than a million hours of home-help this year and moves by the government to outsource home-help services to private for-profit companies, at the expense of services previously provided by not-for-profit organisations and by the HSE directly.
The protest was called following a visit of 60 home-helps to the Dáil two weeks ago for leader’s questions, where Deputy Boyd Barrett challenged the Taoiseach over home-help cuts and privatisation of the services and called on the government to reverse the cuts and halt moves toward privatisation.
Home-helps present in the Dáil, were so angry at the failure of the Taoiseach to acknowledge the problem and the manner in which he misrepresented their plight, they decided that day to organise a demonstration.
People Before Profit in conjunction with the Home Help/Home Care Action group has held several public meetings across Dublin and across the country over recent weeks and distributed thousands of leaflets and posters to promote tomorrow’s demonstration.
Last week People Before Profit exposed, though it received scant coverage, that Maureen Windle, an adviser to Minister James Reilly, was an employee and adviser of Sodexo, the multi-national parent company of Comfort Keepers – a private for profit home-help provider whose Irish subsidiary has benefited from the outsourcing and privatisation of home-help services by the HSE.
Deputy Boyd Barrett will again raise the issue of home-helps cuts and privatisation with the Taoiseach at leaders questions today at 3.15pm, and will challenge the Taoiseach’s false assertion in the Dáil two weeks ago that home-help services were being provided to those that need them and his denial that many home-helps were being forced to work on a time clock.
Deputy Boyd Barrett said also that he was confident that the campaign run by home-helps and People Before Profit over recent weeks was now having an impact as other opposition groups in the Dáil were now also taking up the issue.
Deputy Boyd Barrett said: “Everybody concerned about the welfare of our elderly and disabled citizens and concerned to protect the public health system should come out and join the home-helps in their protest tomorrow.
These are absolutely despicable cuts directly threatening the welfare of our most vulnerable citizens. A cut of an hour to a half an hour of home-help can be the difference between the home-help being able to properly help an elderly or disabled person have a shower or cook a meal, and not being able to do that. This can make an enormous difference to the quality of life for old and disabled people who are often lonely and isolated and really require the human touch that properly motivated home-helps provide.
The moves to cut hours and degrade the service by handing it over to for-profit companies, who are working on a time-clock and where there is a huge turn-over of employees because of poor wages and conditions is de-humanising and degrading the home-help service. The only people who benefit from all this are the private companies.
It is an absolute scandal, every bit as shocking as the swords primary care centre scandal, that one of James Reilly’s advisers is someone who up until last year was advising Sodexo, parent company of Comfort Keepers – a company that is now directly benefitting from the minister’s moves to privatise home-help services.
So now we have two examples – primary care centres and home-help services – where people connected to James Reilly are also linked to private interests that are benefitting from James Reilly’s decisions as Minister for Health.
It is now clear that all the governments talk about “reform”of the health services and public sector reform generally is just spin to cover-up the real agenda of slicing-up our health and public services for profit. Just as Fine Gael and the Labour Party are protecting the interest of bankers at every turn, they are also acting to further the interests of multi-nationals and big business at the expense of ordinary people and the public services they depend.
We urgently need people power on the streets to stop this despicable agenda of cuts and profiteering. Tomorrow’s protest will be the first of many heading into this budget and we need to make those protests to get bigger and bigger as we head towards December when even bigger health cuts are due to be imposed by Reilly and this government. It’s also clear our campaign is having an impact as other parties in the Dáil are now starting to raise the issue as well.
I would appeal to people who care about our society to come out on the streets tomorrow at 3pm with the home-helps.”