Fianna Fáil TD for Wexford James Browne has called on Minister for Health Simon Harris to review the HSE allocation for home care services in the south east.

Deputy Browne made the comments after Dr Mark Doyle, who is the president of the Irish Association of Emergency Medicine, stated that no new home care packages would be made available to patients for the rest of 2016 due to financial constraints.

“Home care packages are a central part of community health care. They allow older people, who may need assistance and support, to stay in their homes rather than having to be treated in hospital or in a nursing home. Many older people want to stay at home in familiar surroundings than be forced into a residential setting,” said Deputy Browne.

“Fianna Fáil has consistently highlighted the lack of availability of home care services in certain areas. Last October our Spokesperson on Health Billy Kelleher challenged the Government on the funding allocation provided for home care services, and we made it clear that there would be a shortfall in home care hours as the year progresses.

“It’s clear that the funding shortfall is now having a major impact on the provision of healthcare in communities across the south east. Patients simply cannot access home care services and as a result they are forced to stay in hospital. This is having a knock on effect right across the health service, and is leading to increased waiting lists and delayed discharges.

“The vast majority of older people would like to remain in their own home for as long as possible. However many older people are being denied this due to a lack of home care packages. Without adequate investment in home care packages and home help hours, older people will be forced into already crowded acute hospitals, a significant number of which are already buckling under the pressure of an overburdened health system.

“This issue needs to be addressed as a matter of priority. If we are to show care, support and dignity to elderly people, something has to be done. Not only should these home help hours be met, they should be increased.”