Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Disability, Margaret Murphy O’Mahony TD has said that Minister Finian McGrath must ensure that Personal Assistant hours for people with disabilities are maintained, at a minimum, at 2016 levels.

Deputy Murphy O’Mahony has commenting following the publication of the HSE’s Service Plan for 2016 which showed that the 2017 target is 1.4 million hours.

“This doesn’t make sense to me. The 2016 outturn was 1.5 million. There is a proposed gap of some 100,000 hours that are needed by people with disabilities.”

“Clearly, there was a need to provide these hours in 2016. Are the HSE really claiming that this need has disappeared, or are they just refusing to fund the required hours in 2017?”

“Potentially thousands of people will see their number of Personal Assistant hours reduced in 2017, or those who require PA hours in the first instance will be refused.”

“Minister McGrath must, as a matter of urgency, seek additional funding from the HSE to, at the very least; ensure that an additional 100,000 hours are allocated.”

“This is the least he must do. In reality, he needs to commit to an increase on the 2016 outturn, and ensure that any person with a disability has access to Personal Assistant support.”

“Worryingly, the same situation will now apply to Home Help Hours where the 2017 projected hours will be lower than the 2016 outturn. There will be 2.75 million hours allocated versus an outturn of 2.9 million last year.”

“These gaps in service will cause problems down the line for all people with disabilities. The lack of Personal Assistant and Home Help hours will severely curtail their independence and overall quality of life.”

“Minister McGrath must secure the additional supports needed to match last year’s supports,” concluded Murphy O’Mahony.