Fianna Fáil TD for Galway East, Anne Rabbitte, has said the restriction on new applicants for home help services is a deeply cruel cut that will have the greatest impact on the most vulnerable in society.

She commented: “Such a move affects not just the elderly but also those with a disability. Most people want to be cared for at home but families are now seemingly being locked out from the system that’s meant to help them. It’s causing a great deal of distress for families across Galway. 

“It costs the HSE around €860 per day for a bed in an acute hospital. This equates to almost 60 home help hours. It’s easy to see how this crisis could be addressed but the fact that more than 6,000 people are on waiting lists for hours shows clearly how strained the service has become.

“The Minister needs to clarify how many people will be affected by these proposed cuts, as there is no doubt that any reduction in hours will push an already stretched service to the brink.

“I’ve had constituents tell me they’re monitoring the death notices to see where home help hours may free up after someone passes away. It’s a sad reflection of how bad our health system has become when people are essentially waiting for someone to die in the hope they’ll get the hours.

“I understand, despite extreme circumstances, no new applications will be considered until next November. What is most concerning is the families and clients already in receipt of home help hours who will not receive additional hours if their condition worsens. As people age there’s a high probability that their needs increase. For the HSE not to issue additional hours to people who need them is reckless and cruel,” concluded Deputy Rabbitte.