Dáil debates

Wednesday, 28 September 2022

Financial Resolutions 2022 - Financial Resolution No. 6: General: Financial Resolution (Resumed)


5:05 pm

Photo of Anne RabbitteAnne Rabbitte (Galway East, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I thank the Minister for sharing his time with me; it is greatly appreciated. I have secured a figure of €242 million for disability services in budget 2023. Let me bring Members on a whistle-stop tour of exactly how that is broken down. There is €109 million for existing levels of service, €29 million for new developments, €39 million for Covid-related issues, which are once-off payments to support the assessment of needs, and €65 million to support the section 39 voluntary community organisations.

Let me break down what is the existing level of services. This is to ensure that services for people who are in emergency placements, residential placements, respite care or who may have personal assistants and personalised budgets can continue to be operationalised and that staff wages are paid. The new developments are the expansion of everything thereon, including respite care, emergencies and responding to the critical number of emergency placements as they arise.

The new developments within that which have not been seen before are a response to the community neurorehabilitation teams. I have put €900,000 into two community rehabilitation teams. That is in response to the request of the Neurological Alliance of Ireland, which represents 31 organisations including those representing people affected by multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, motor neurone disease and Huntington's disease. We will have clinician nurses based out in the community across all our community healthcare organisations, CHOs. Two were delivered within the strategy in the past number of years. I am doubling that in this budget and having those four operationalised. We do not just stop there with neurological services, however. It is an expansion of the neurological strategy, where €1.7 million has been secured to invest in the neurological nursing workforce, with more than 23 additional neurological nursing whole-time equivalents across neurological centres.

The next stage of the strategy roll-out is to areas in which we already have trauma in CHO 4, and to have the neurological team in place to work with the community team along with paediatric neurological supports. There is, therefore, a whole package looking after 31 organisations, which we meet on a daily basis, be it in the audiovisual room or over in Buswell's Hotel. They are in all our communities and they are looking for clinical nurse specialists. That is what I have responded to and it is a top line within the new developments.

I am also making a huge priority of assets within assistive technology and partnering with the WHO. When I talk about once-off funding, I am talking about the assessment of needs and the court case and the requirement to clear the backlog. It is very fortunate I got the funding now. It is not the first time I have sought funding to clear a backlog of assessment of needs; this is the second time. I got €7 million when I took up office two years ago. I have now sourced €11.7 million to ensure that I can work with the various section 38 and 39 organisations and the HSE, but also with private operators, to ensure that we have assessments completed in order that families can have the proper interventions, pathways and supports that are required in a timely fashion. That is why that money was so important. For far too long, parents have been left for long periods on waiting lists.

There is another €27 million to respond to the emergency cases arising from Covid-19. There are 143 emergency cases to which the HSE has responded. That funding is in place. It will be going into my base next year. However, it reveals the high level of need and unmet need within the disability sector. I was very fortunate in sourcing that funding with the Departments of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth and Health to be able to meet the need and respond to the needs of the families in crisis.

Finally, it has not been a week since we had section 39 organisations walking the streets. They have been all over the country telling us about how expensive it is for them to run their organisations be it from the increase in food and transport costs to the increase in energy costs, and how difficult it is for them to retain staff. Thanks to the support of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Michael McGrath, the Department of Health secured €100 million of inflationary measures in response to nursing homes, hospices and section 39 organisations, of which I got the lion's share of €65 million within disability services.

The wrap-around figure again is €242 million within disability services with €109 million for existing level of service, €29 million for new developments, €39 million for once-off payments and €65 million for the section 39 organisations. That is the work that has gone into the response to meeting the needs of children, families, growing adults, services staff and workers. That is the funding that has been sourced for disability services.

I am very grateful to my two senior line Ministers, Deputies Stephen Donnelly and O’Gorman, who have supported me not only today but for the past 12 months. I thank the Minister, Deputy Michael McGrath, who has given me the funding to not only meet current needs but also to be ambitious and drive on with regard to neurological services.


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