A LIMERICK city TD has criticised the practice of freezing the home support service after observing recent waiting list information.
Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan’s concerns come as a result of waiting lists growing by nearly 600 people between April and May this year.
Figures released to Sinn Féin by the HSE have shown that as of 31 May 2019, there were 6,819 people were waiting for funding for a home support service.
“This number has soared by 581 since I previously received the same data from the HSE in March. The sole reason for this increase has been the freezing of the home help service by the HSE,” Deputy Quinlivan added.
“The people on this list are entitled to this service – they have been assessed and approved for home support, but they cannot be facilitated because of the freeze in the service.
The HSE Home Support Service aims to support the elderly population in remaining in their own homes for as long as possible and to support informal carers. The service is free and is available to people aged 65 or over who may need support to continue living at home or to return home following a hospital stay.
“The system is a complete postcode lottery,” added the TD, “the county or area where you live defines whether you can get the service or if you join a waiting list of hundreds,” said the SF deputy.
“It is one of the best value-for-money services in the health service. Properly funding it saves millions by keeping people in their homes and out of hospitals or nursing homes.
“It is not possible for the government or the HSE to stand over undermining this service -they have essentially pulled down the shutters on the service and stuck a closed until further notice sign outside.
“But this is an invaluable health service, and through their actions they are denying people care,” he said.
Commenting on the waiting list HSE Mid West Community Healthcare Chief Officer Bernard Gloster said: “The national waiting list of more than 6,000 is not surprising, the Mid West being approximately 10 per cent of that. This would normally be our proportion of many health resource statistics.
“In any waiting list we prioritise based on clinical need, the need to leave hospital on time, end of life care and we further take account of the other supports people might have available to them such as day centres.
“In the ageing population and changing circumstances the demand is not surprising and while we cannot meet all demand, we are not cutting back on what we are funded to do.”