13 July 2017
By Bryan Smyth
Cork North Central TD Mick Barry (Solidarity) this morning slammed comments from the newly-appointed Minister for State for Older People Jim Daly TD (Fine Gael) that a charge should be introduced for the HSE home help service.
Minister Daly told the Sunday Business Post last weekend: “People should pay for home help if they can afford it”, adding that there were “many people who would be quite happy to make a contribution to the scheme.”
A public consultation scheme was launched last week into the future of home help services.
Deputy Barry, who served on the Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Healthcare, said this morning: “Minister Daly is only in his new job less than a month and already he is throwing shapes and positioning himself to become the first Minister in the history of the state to ask people to pay for state-provided home help services.”
“He seems to be raising the idea of a charge for people above a certain income limit but everybody knows that such income limits can be lowered and that this proposal is a foot in the door for making people more generally pay for the service.”
Deputy Barry said that both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael led Governments had presided over the arrival and entrenchment of private home help services but suggested that Minister Daly’s proposal would speed up the privatisation of home care delivery: “The private operators are all about money and maximising profit. Introducing a charge for home help will be a stepping stone to really upping the ante on the privatisation of the service.”
The state spends 375 million euro a year on home help services and there is currently a waiting list of 4000.
Deputy Barry said that the best way to deal with the waiting lists is to invest more money and the clear the lists: “By investing more in the short term the state will save a fortune in the medium to long term. Home care packages area a hell of a lot cheaper than forcing people into nursing homes.”