Sinn Féin recently launched a €1.1 billion Alternative Budget for Health 2023 ‘Funding Fairer Healthcare.’ As part of the alternative budget a package of €152 million was allocated specifically for additional measures with regard to Disability and Carers.
Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Disability and Carers Pauline Tully stated that the package of measures demonstrate Sinn Féin’s commitment to implementing the recommendations of the 2021-2032 disability capacity review and resourcing strong advocacy for people with disabilities.
Teachta Tully said:
“The measures we are putting forward aim to empower disabled people and ensure their rights to independent living and access to specialist disability services.
“As part of this budget we would focus on ensuring that the remaining 1,800 people who are still living in congregated settings are rehoused in appropriate supported accommodation over a five-year period, with €82.8 million allocated to this in 2023.
“We have included an allocation of €23 million to undertake the transfer of 100 disabled people under the age of 65 who have been inappropriately placed in a nursing home to independent and supported homes in the community.
“We would also target an increase of 150,000 personal assistance and home support hours for people with disabilities.
“The Disability Capacity Review identified a potential need for approximately 20,000 additional respite hours. This year we would make a significant investment towards this with funding for 5,500 respite hours.
“The Review also identified a need for an additional 7,400 day service places, which we would deliver incrementally over 10 years according to service need, with an initial allocation this year of €22.2million.
“Children’s Disability Network Teams (CDNTs) have a staff vacancy rate of 29%, according to the HSE CDNT Census released in October 2021. This has contributed to waiting lists for ‘initial contact’ with these teams in excess of 17,000 children, wit approximately 8,000 of these children waiting over a year.
“While funding has been put in place to recruit staff to positions in the CDNTs this has not solved the problem and the HSE have found it hard to recruit and retain staff.
“Part of the solution is ensuring that Children’s Disability Services are an attractive place to work.
“A Sinn Féin government would make €10 million available to CDNTs to take targeted measures for recruitment and retention of staff. As well as national and international recruitment campaigns, we would put in place new therapy assistant programmes and grades.
“We would expand the number of higher and further education courses by 40% in the areas of therapy and rehabilitation to increase the domestic pipeline of graduates in these fields.
“We would also ensure that the HSE has the capacity to assist healthcare students through their placements and degrees to encourage recruitment.
“As well as this we would put in place a €10 million fund to support recruitment and retention in Children’s Disability Network Teams.
“These measures would deliver an additional 480,000 therapy hours.
“To tackle waiting lists we are proposing a €25 million Community Care Access Fund which would target the longest waiters on primary care, disability, mental health, and community waiting lists.
“To ensure that the rights of disabled people are upheld, we would ratify the Optional Protocol of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as a priority and also invest €2 million in training and development funding for Disabled Persons Organisations (DPOs).
Finally, we would develop and implement an Autism Action Plan and a new Carers Strategy as policy priorities. These would be interdepartmental and developed across the Departments of Health, Children/Disability, Social Protection, and Education.
“This package would make a real difference in the lives of disabled people. It would assist in empowering disabled people and ensuring their rights to independent living and access to specialist disability services are met.
“The current system is not working. It’s time for change. Sinn Féin in government would stand up for and deliver on disabled people’s rights.”