HSE hiring freeze putting older people at risk says Fitzmaurice

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A hiring freeze in the west of Ireland by the HSE is putting older and vulnerable people in need of home care at risk says Galway TD Michael Fitzmaurice.

People who are eligible for care under the Home Support Scheme have been denied care due to staff shortages in the  HSE Community Healthcare West area for months now the Independent TD claims.

“I have been made aware of a situation where a constituent who suffered a stroke in the recent past is now being denied access to home help due to vacant positions being left unfilled.”

New applications for support or for additional hours are not being processed at this time, Michael Fitzmaurice said, with the HSE saying they will have to wait until positions are filled.

“It is totally unacceptable for these applications to be put on hold indefinitely. How is it that approval can be sought and granted to fill a position, but yet it can continue to be left unfilled for weeks on end?”

“People who are eligible and deserving of care under the scheme, but who are being placed on the long finger due to the HSE’s inaction are now at serious risk.”

He added that home care services are particularly vital heading into the winter period, where older people would be most vulnerable if alone in their homes.

“Whether that is providing them with a hot meal, washing them, ensuring they are healthy and warm or just chatting with them for a few minutes a day, these are all vital supports.”

“Without these carers calling to people’s homes, these people might not be able to continue to live in their homes – which would place an even bigger burden on nursing homes and hospitals in the country.”

Deputy Fitzmaurice also said that delays are being noticed by people waiting for the Primary Medical Certificate for the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers Scheme.

The certificate allows a person to avail of a range of tax reliefs when it comes to purchasing and running a specially constructed or adapted vehicle for a driver or passenger with a disability.

“Again the HSE is blaming the continued delays for assessments on staffing shortages. We are being told that it has had to ‘realign services with available staff,” Fitzmaurice said.

“And while these delays are ongoing, the quality of people’s lives are deteriorating because they are not in a position to purchase these specially-adapted vehicles for people with disabilities.”

He concluded by saying that the HSE, as it is run now, is simply not fit for purpose.