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Budget Statement 2019

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Snippet Contents:

Enabling people to live in their own home, if they choose to, should be and has to be a core goal. We have worked for an increase in funding for home help and home care packages that will have a real impact on carers. We need to see the Health Service Executive, HSE, service plan realise this. We need to see an increase of up to 1 million in home help hours. We need to see up to 2,000 home help packages. We need to see dementia care advisers appointed to meet the deficit and to help assist with that terrible vista that is facing many families across the country today.
Mental healthcare was also a central part of the confidence and supply arrangement and A Vision for Change needs to be fully implemented.  The additional €55 million in this budget is welcome but needs to be matched into the future. The full roll-out of this strategy must remain a key objective for the Government. No healthcare system, public or private, can, of course, function without a fully resourced and motivated workforce. The level of work and care our health professionals provide for patients in their darkest hour cannot and should never be underestimated. The shortage of GPs in Ireland is reaching critical proportions. Across the length and breadth of the country, as I said earlier, GPs provide vital healthcare services to communities. Without them, the entire health system would cease to function. According to the HSE, Ireland is facing a shortage of between 493 and 1,380 GPs by 2025. GPs across the country are closing their practices to new patients, thereby leaving people without this vital element of healthcare. People instead must report to accident and emergency departments where the trolley crisis is already at epidemic levels. Until we start to value our GPs, we will face many similar situations. The Government must commit to a process to restore financial emergency measures in the public interest, FEMPI, cuts for GPs if we are to stand any chance of meeting the health requirements of the public.
I want to raise the issue of section 39 workers because it is ongoing. When Fianna Fáil raised this issue time and time again, the Government dismissed the issue, ignored it and ignored the workers. The standard response was that these people were not public sector workers and so did not deserve pay restoration. Aside from being grossly unfair, hospices and other such organisations, which provide vital health services to communities throughout the country, were left in the unenviable position of either leaving workers without restoration or cutting services. We welcome the outcome of the Workplace Relations Commission, WRC, process in recent weeks but in a wider sense, the funding of voluntary section 39 organisations needs to be and must be addressed. The Government is of the view that the funding is sufficient. We all know hospices provide palliative care to thousands of patients throughout the country. Many of these hospices are facing funding deficits and there is a real prospect that services will need to be cut. Their pleas to the Government to date have fallen on deaf ears.
With a growing number of two-income families in Ireland, additional childcare services and supports are now required more than ever. There simply is not enough capacity at the moment to deal with the demand and costs have exploded. Hardworking families are being placed under ferocious pressure. Loved ones are often needed to fill the gap. Many parents, mostly women, are being forced to curtail their careers to stay at home because childcare is so expensive. That is notwithstanding the increases we have seen today in eligibility. The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Ross, has been trying to appeal to grannies like a political Dickie Rock. Two for the price of one granny grants does not constitute a childcare policy. This is a key priority for Fianna Fáil.