Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Older People, Mary Butler has criticised the Minister for Health for failing to stop a reduction in allocated home help hours, including a 15% cut in Waterford, in the first two months of 2017.

Deputy Butler was commenting after receiving a parliamentary reply from the HSE which showed that in January and February 2017, 1.65M home help hours were provided compared to 1.7M over the same period in 2016.

“The national reduction in home help hours of just over 50,000 demonstrates that Minister Harris’s promises and commitments to older people rings hollow.

“While there are some parts of the country that have seen moderate increases in their allocations, there are vast swathes of the country that have had major reductions in home help support.

“Laois and Offaly saw a 27% reduction, following by Dublin South City with a reduction of nearly 21%, and my own county of Waterford was inflicted with a 15% cut.

“Every home help hour that is cut is an hour of support that, by and large, keeps older people in their homes for longer. It allows them to retain their independence.

“Equally, when home help hours aren’t provided, it makes discharging older people from hospital more difficult, eventually ending with more citizens lying on hospital trolleys as they wait to be admitted to a ward.

“Time and time again, the Minister, his Ministers of State, and his officials wax lyrical about the importance of primary care. Home Help is a basic service that ensures support and quality care is provided to our older citizens.

“The Minister must ensure that this reduction in home help hours does not continue over the remainder of the year. Our population is aging, and if the Minister is truly serious about keeping people in the homes for as long as possible, he needs to deliver the resources in every county to make that a reality,” concluded Butler.