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Estimates for Public Services 2016 (Resumed)

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Estimates for Public Services 2016 (Resumed)

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Estimates for Public Services 2016 (Resumed)

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Deputy Michael Collins

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Snippet Contents:

According to the study of the impact of reconfiguration on emergency and urgent care networks, SIREN, the farther one lives from a centre of excellence, the poorer the outcome in the event of a serious emergency. The SIREN report found that, while survival rates in Dublin were the best in the country, those in the south - counties Cork and Kerry - were the worst. This is in stark contrast with the aim of the reconfiguration programme, namely, to achieve the best possible health outcomes for the people it served. The people of west Cork have not been well served by the programme. Many find themselves having to travel up to 100 miles at night by ambulance to Cork University Hospital, CUH, a journey that could take three hours. They may then have to wait for several more hours before receiving medical attention. The appointment of a night-time casualty officer would mean the extension of the Bantry General Hospital emergency department's night-time service. More patients could be treated without needing to be transferred to CUH, resulting in more ambulances being freed for other emergencies and a reduction in the numbers presenting at and overcrowding in CUH's emergency department.
Recent figures released show that 50,000 patients per year are walking out of emergency departments because of long waiting times and overcrowding. Some leave without being seen by a nurse, which is further evidence of the failure of the reconfiguration of acute hospitals.
Home help and home care packages are a major issue throughout the country, particularly in west Cork. An underlying cause of overcrowding and bed blocking in hospitals is the fact that many elderly patients cannot return home owing to a shortage of home helps and a lack of investment in home care packages. I call on the Minister for Health to invest in this area immediately. In doing so, he would automatically reduce overcrowding and free hospital beds for those in need of more urgent medical care. When I spoke to the Taoiseach about this issue last week, he directed me to the Minister. I will take up that opportunity in the days ahead, but we need to consider the question of home help services as recipients are being treated poorly.
According to the Lightfoot report, CUH takes the longest time in Ireland to clear an ambulance from the time it arrives at the emergency department until it is available for its next deployment. The report recommends further investment in ambulances and related vehicles.
I wish to address the issue of waiting times for the assessment and delivery of services for children with special needs. I have been informed that some children are waiting a year and a half or more for initial assessments and a further six for the service to be delivered. Under the Disability Act, children have a statutory entitlement to an assessment of their needs within a six-month period if they were born after 2002. The Government is failing in its duty to these children under the Act.
I wish to address the cuts to disability services, specifically the €1 million cut in funding for CoAction in west Cork. With growing numbers availing of CoAction's disability services and supports, the organisation has been put under severe financial strain. Complying with the Health Information and Quality Authority, HIQA, standards has taken more than €350,000 out of its stretched budget. No additional funding has been made available for the residential, respite care or transport service in the past eight years. Many parents of adults with intellectual disabilities are ageing and finding it increasingly difficult to care for their adult children without the support of respite and residential care services. They are also under increasing stress to provide for the future care of their children owing to the decrease in the number of places available in full-time residential services. I call on the Minister to reverse the savage cuts to a service that is vital for more than 600 children and 140 adults across west Cork.