Tuesday, 13 October 2020
Department of Health
Disability Services Funding
498. To ask the Minister for Health the steps he is taking to ensure that the deficits experienced by section 38 and section 39 disability service providers are eliminated; the date on which these deficits will be eliminated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30017/20]
Disability services focus on enabling people with disabilities to achieve their full potential, living ordinary lives in ordinary places, as independently as possible while ensuring that the voices of service users and their families are heard, and that they are fully involved in planning and improving services to meet their needs.
My primary concern as Minister for Health is to ensure the continuity of these vital services in the interests of the well-being of the children, adolescents and adults who, along with their families, depend on these key services and supports.
Specialist disability services are provided by a range of organisations. In some cases, services are delivered directly by the Health Service Executive (HSE). However the majority of organisations providing services for people with a disability are funded by the HSE, on the basis of service arrangements underpinned by Section 38 and 39 of the Health Act 2004. Section 38 and Section 39 disability service providers have independent boards, who govern the organisations concerned and any deficits accruing are the responsibility of these organisations.
Significant resources have been invested by the health sector in disability services over the past number of years. As set out in the National Service Plan 2020, the 2020 disability budget is €2054.5m. This represents an increase of €138.7m or 7.2% on the 2019 budget.
In the context of COVID-19, the HSE has provided significant supports to Section 38 and Section 39 organisations providing disability specialist services. Through the Community Healthcare Organisations (CHOs), the HSE is actively engaging with any Section 38 and Section 39 disability service providers who are experiencing financial challenges, including access to cash acceleration, where appropriate, to maintain continuity of service provision where cash flow issues arise. Organisations receiving funding from the HSE should raise any concerns in relation to financial issues that may have implications for continuity of service provision with the relevant Community Health Care Organisation (CHO) responsible for the service arrangements.
In addition, the Government has agreed to allocate substantial additional funding to the Health Vote to meet the costs associated with the implementation of the measures outlined in the National Action Plan in response to COVID-19. Specific action has been taken at my request and that of Minister Rabbitte, to relieve Disability service providers of the necessity to achieve a 1% efficiency target in 2020.
The HSE will continue to work in partnership with all service provider organisations to ensure the best level of service possible is provided to people with a disability, and their families, within the resources available. As the Deputy's question deals with organisations providing services to the HSE, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the HSE for direct reply to the Deputy.