The HSE has confirmed that they do not intend to alter or end respite services provided at College View in Mullingar.
This is despite repeated concerns outlined by the mother of a child who attends the centre, that the facility will be closed.
A spokesperson for the HSE says they have reassured the families concerned that they are “very aware of the value of this service to families and have no intention to reduce the service”.
“Until the review of respite services is complete there will be no change to the existing service,” the spokesperson said. That review is currently underway.
“Mary”, who doesn’t want her name published to protect her daughter, first aired her concerns on Midlands 103’s Midlands Today programme on Wednesday August 11 where she claimed that families and staff at the College View centre are terrified that the facility will close or be privatised.
She says privatisation would result in the disabled clients of the centre paying a substantial portion of their social welfare payment for the service.
“We were told it wouldn’t be closed, but I can’t believe the health board,” Mary told the Mullingar Advertiser.
“Women and widows who have no one to look after their children are in tears about this,” she said.
She says she is aware since June that the respite centre would be closed and that “staff are fearing for their jobs”.
Caroline Poole of the Carers Association says there was a rumour that the facility was to close and carers were “very upset”.
However, at a meeting held on Monday night the HSE confirmed that the service is continuing and that money is available for it.
The HSE has since confirmed in writing that no changes will take place without full consultation with all stakeholders, including carers.
“We have to take their word for it. If they’re not closing down, that suits us.”
Concerns remain however about whether the HSE staffing moratorium may lead to the facility being put out to tender for privatisation.
Labour’s Deputy Willie Penrose told the Mullingar Advertiser that he is satisfied with the HSE’s statement that the College View centre will continue to provide care to patients in the Mullingar area.
He also says that most of the carers who contacted him will be happy if the current system remains.
“Most of the people that I spoke to would rather what’s there to continue. Once the service is provided and is nurse-led, they’re happy enough.”
However he accepts that the HSE review may lead to a different structure of provision.
His preference is for “the maximum level of public health provision where possible” but he notes that the changes made following a review at St Christopher’s in Castlepollard were “a tremendous success”.
For now he is content to accept assurances from Joe Ruane, regional health manager that the service is remaining.