Speaking recently during leaders questions in the Dáil, Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson & Dublin Fingal Sinn Fein TD Louise O’Reilly called on the Tánaiste and the Government to address the crisis in respite care for children and to restore hours that have been slashed, as shown by figures released to her in a response to a Parliamentary Question from the Health Service Executive (HSE).
Deputy O’Reilly said:
“The Tánaiste is keenly aware that there is not a Deputy in this house who does not receive emails and calls on a daily basis from desperate parents and family members who are seeking respite care hours for their children.
“For that reason I was shocked and angered at the figures released to me by the HSE which showed that while the number in need of respite is going up the actual allocation of respite care hours is decreasing.
“The figures released to me have shown that in the first quarter of 2016 there were 44,141 overnight hours of respite care provided, however, in the first quarter of 2017 this figure had dropped to 40,597.
“This is completely shocking and unacceptable. These hours provide
to parents and families who have a child in the household with a disability; they are some of the hardest pressed and struggling families in the State, and the evidence shows that this Government is failing them.
“This is not a local issue and there is no urban-rural divide to this issue – all counties in this State are being treated equally unfairly.
“For example, my own constituency of Dublin-Fingal falls within the Dublin North Local Health Office, and that area is down 503 hours of overnight respite care on the first quarter of last year, in Donegal there has been a loss of 559 hours, and shockingly, Dublin North Central has seen a loss of 1,553 hours of overnight respite care.
“This situation cannot continue. Parents and families are at breaking point. There has to be a commitment from the Government that they will stop slashing the provision of respite care hours and that they will increase the funding for this basic service and that these struggling families will get relief and their children will get respite care.