Tuesday, 17 December 2019
Section 39 Organisations: Motion [Private Members]
I do not in any way doubt the Minister of State's sincerity in dealing with disability services. I do, however, believe that the voices of section 39 organisations are not being properly heard by the Government. We can see this problem across our health service. Section 39 organisations are supplying services that would normally be delivered by the State. These are front-line services that are very difficult to deliver. Some 35% of the disability budget is spent by section 39 organisations but 2/3 of disability services are delivered by section 39 organisations. The State is heavily reliant on the sector and gets excellent value for the money it spends in the sector. Unfortunately, the level of funding is the real problem. A lack of funding leads to a struggle in delivering the range of services, in delivering the quality of services, and in the delivery of the absolutely essential governance that section 39 organisations require, and which is demanded of them. Essentially, the lack of funding leads to difficulties in recruitment and retention of staff. This is one of the huge problems facing section 39 organisations. They recruit and train staff, who then are tempted to go to work with section 38 organisations or to the HSE, where conditions of service and pay are much better. Non-delivery of section 39 services leads to huge unmet need. This leads to additional costs down the road.
Many, if not all, section 39 organisations are operating at a financial deficit. They have to beg for proper funding, not only from the Government but also from the public. They invariably provided services that are excellent value for money, with tight financial control underpinning elimination of any unnecessary costs. They are dependent on fundraising and the kindness of strangers to meet their bills and to bridge the deficit in their funding.
They are not funded at the real cost of providing these desperately-needed, essential services that are delivered to people who are most dependent and most vulnerable.
Recently, I visited an acquired brain injury service in Clarecastle in County Clare. It provides an excellent service to those who have suffered road traffic accident, strokes or serious assault. Acquired Brain Injury Ireland is a section 39 organisation that is unable to provide occupational therapy services, speech and language services and physiotherapy services. If it does have these essential components they are either half time or not sufficiently present to deliver a proper service. However, this organisation takes people out of our acute hospitals and delivers them to community services, allowing them to live within their communities, either independently or supported. This is an example of a section 39 organisation that is struggling to deliver excellent services and is underfunded.