Local TDs are calling on Health Minister Leo Varadkar and the Minister with responsibility for Disability, Kathleen Lynch, to help restore vital funding for St Hilda’s Services in Athlone, which received news this week of budget cuts.
St Hilda’s Services has got word that their funding is to be cut by €75,000 over the coming year and a half - a €25,000 cut will be applied in November, and a further €50,000 reduction in funding in 2015.
CEO of St Hilda’s Service, Sheila Buckley Byrne says services are already cut to the bone, and that any further cuts will result in a loss of services at client level. St Hilda’s has lodged an appeal with the HSE against the funding cut, but has not had an opportunity to set a meeting date yet.
St Christopher’s Services in Longford is also under threat due to funding cuts.
Deputy Gabrielle McFadden is urging Ministers Varadkar and Lynch to restore vital funding for these local intellectual disability services.
“I have been speaking to Sheila Buckley Byrne, and I know she and her team have done immense work in keeping services open despite the sharp reduction in funding.
“We are blessed in this region with high quality services. However, due to the economic downturn, the HSE has consistently cut the services of St Hilda’s in Athlone and St Christopher’s in Longford since 2008,” said Deputy McFadden.
“Acute funding difficulties are now being experienced and it is simply not fair that our most vulnerable should suffer from the effects of the recession.
“I have made urgent representations to both Ministers Varadkar and Lynch urging them to restore the balance and renew the funding for these vital services.”
“I hope that Minister Varadkar and Minister Lynch will look urgently at this funding crisis to provide some level of reassurance to service-users and providers.”
Deputy Robert Troy says the lack of information from Minister Lynch on the funding cuts and what impact they will have on services is “totally unacceptable”.
He says the cuts are being implemented against the advice of the HSE locally.
“The HSE Midlands has said St Hilda’s would not be able to sustain a reduction without cutting services. The facilities at St. Hilda’s are providing vitally important care in the Midlands and need to be supported.”