Fianna Fáil Senator Denis O’Donovan has called on Minister Kathleen Lynch to ‘put her money where her mouth is’ and defend the Home Help hours that have been drastically cut.

During a debate in the Seanad last week, Minister Lynch agreed what had happened to people with Home Help cuts was ‘scurrilous’ and attacked the most vulnerable.

Senator O’Donovan commented: “Last week I pleaded with Minister Lynch to do something to stop this attack on Home Help hours. More than 30 people have contacted me to express their deep concern that the cuts to their Home Help provision would see them eventually end up in nursing homes. 

“There has been almost 1 million Home Help hours cut throughout the country this year, these cuts directly affect the elderly, the disabled and sick – the most vulnerable people in our society. I asked how Minister Lynch could stand by and approve these scurrilous cuts. To my surprise she agreed with everything I said and shared my sentiments.

“What I find unbelievable is that while Minister Lynch agrees with me that the most vulnerable have been targeted with these cuts, she has done nothing to stop it. If she has any sense of decency and urgency surely she should make a stand and demand these cuts are immediately reversed. Minister Lynch talks a good game, now she needs to put her money where her mouth is and deliver for the sick and elderly.

“What has also appalled me in recent weeks is that Home Helps have been barred from speaking of the extremely tough working conditions they are faced with. One Home Help told me that she had five half hours with five different people in the West Cork area in one day. This is just crazy, by the time the Home Help has a cup of tea made they have to rush out to get to their next appointment. This is a ridiculous situation and treating patients and workers like this is horrendous.

“It has also come to light recently that Cork and Kerry have unfairly bore the brunt of these cuts. Recently released information has confirmed that the HSE South has had the most Home Help hours cut in the country.

“Taking away Home Help hours like this will cost the State a lot more than it is saving. Huge pressure will be placed on the acute hospital system costing millions in extra healthcare costs for the state.”