Seanad debates

Thursday, 20 December 2018

10:50 am

Photo of Catherine ArdaghCatherine Ardagh (Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I would like to raise two matters. The first relates to the National Treatment Purchase Fund, NTPF. This is a fantastic scheme, but there are pitfalls. One of the pitfalls I would like to bring to the attention of the House is the lack of aftercare and convalescence care. I have a constituent, whom I will call Bob for these purposes, who was attending a hospital in Dublin on an ongoing basis for an issue with his knee. After many years on a waiting list, Bob was offered an appointment to get his knee fixed in a private hospital in Dublin and he did so. Bob is in elderly man on a medical card who does not have much means. After he had the operation in the private hospital, Bob was immediately discharged with no aftercare and he went back to his original treating general hospital where he was told that he was no longer its patient and he was not on the list. This has left Bob in a situation where he is not under the care of any consultant, he has received no aftercare and no convalescence care, and he is in limbo in terms of where he can go for further treatment. The NTPF is a fantastic model, but the Government needs to consider the provision of aftercare. The HSE seems only to be moving a list. Once a person is off a list in a general hospital, the HSE is happy because it can report on that. No one goes back on a list but this leaves patients in limbo without the proper care and treatment they need.

The second issue I would like to raise is the homeless figures, which I have raised many times. Christmas is approaching and 4,000 children are living in emergency accommodation for the homeless. It is a damning indictment, not only on the Government but on all of us in this House, that we preside over a system where 4,000 children this Christmas have nowhere to call a home. These children will rightly become angry adults in the future. Much of the accommodation that we are making these children live in is substandard. It does not provide for them at all. The Government is doing a considerable disservice to the children of this country by not addressing this issue seriously. The Government has stated the country is booming and unemployment is at an all-time low, but yet, since I became a Member almost three years ago, the homeless figures have only increased. It is a damning indictment, not only on the Government but on all of us, that we sit here and keep saying it, but nothing happens. Coming up to Christmas, we should all think about this and bear in mind what lovely childhoods we all had and what safe, secure homes we all came from, but there are 4,000 children in the State who do not have that luxury.

I thank the staff of the House, as this is our final sitting day before Christmas. I thank the Leader of the House, the Cathaoirleach and the Seanad office and all my colleagues for a fantastic year in which we got a lot done. I am looking forward to next year and working with the Senators to get good legislation over the line.


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