The failure by the Health Service Executive (HSE) to recruit staff in the west of the country, despite approval being granted to fill certain positions, is leaving people in need of care at risk, according to independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice.

Commenting on the matter, he said: “Older and vulnerable people who are eligible to receive care under the Home Support Scheme are being denied this right due to staff shortages across HSE Community Healthcare West for the last few months.

“I have been made aware of a situation where a constituent who suffered a stroke in the recent past is now being denied access to home help due to vacant positions being left unfilled.

“We are now being told that any new applications for support or requests for additional hours will not be processed at the moment. These cases will have to wait until the vacant positions are filled, according to the HSE.

“It is totally unacceptable for these applications to be put on hold indefinitely. How is it that approval can be sought and granted to fill a position, but yet it can continue to be left unfilled for weeks on end?

“People who are eligible and deserving of care under the scheme, but who are being placed on the long finger due to the HSE’s inaction are now at serious risk.

“Given we are coming into the harsh winter period, the services which home help workers provide to their patients are vital.

“Whether that is providing them with a hot meal, washing them, ensuring they are healthy and warm or just chatting with them for a few minutes a day. These are all vital supports.

“Without these carers calling to people’s homes, these people might not be able to continue to live in their homes – which would place an even bigger burden on nursing homes and hospitals in the country.

“The HSE are failing the general public if they continue to drag their heels on this matter,” the Roscommon-Galway representative said.

Continuing, Fitzmaurice noted that people are also experiencing significant delays when it comes to waiting on assessments for the Primary Medical Certificate for the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers Scheme.

The certificate allows a person to avail of a range of tax reliefs when it comes to purchasing and running a specially constructed or adapted vehicle for a driver or passenger with a disability.

Fitzmaurice said: “Again the HSE is blaming the continued delays for assessments on staffing shortages. We are being told that it has had to ‘realign services with available staff’.

“The problem is so widespread, it seems, that constituents in Co. Roscommon cannot even travel to neighbouring counties to be assessed any sooner.

“And while these delays are ongoing, the quality of people’s lives are deteriorating because they are not in a position to purchase these specially-adapted vehicles for people with disabilities.

“This Government needs to take a serious look at how the HSE is being run, as it seems unfit for purpose at the moment,” he concluded.

Michael Fitzmaurice – 0861914565

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