Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Disability Colm Keaveney has accused the Health Minister of becoming desensitised to the spiralling crisis in the disability sector. Despite a series of correspondence from HIQA to the Department of Health outlining a litany of concerns about the situation in residential and community settings, Ministers Leo Varadkar and Kathleen Lynch have washed their hands of the worsening situation.
Deputy Keaveney explained, “Over the past year, the health watchdog has been forced to write to the Department of Health outlining its concern about it deemed “significant human rights abuses” as well as “safety and quality of life” issues of vulnerable residents in certain care centres across the country. Despite these repeated warnings, the situation has actually worsened and had led to the cancellation of registration of some residential services for people with disabilities.
“The vacuum between HIQA and the HSE has expanded at a worrying rate and now we’ve reached a point where we have a watchdog with no teeth and a service provider which is not meeting the basic standards set out to guarantee a safe service. All the while, the Ministers responsible for the sector are standing back and watching the crisis escalate before their eyes, commenting on how terrible the situation is, while doing nothing to attempt to find a solution.
“Ministers Varadkar and Lynch are failing people with disabilities. We’ve had numerous reports detailing the extent of the problems in residential and community settings but it appears as if the Ministers have become desensitised to the findings. HIQA has been forced to close one unit in Kilkenny over safety concerns, and has had to issue notices to a range of other facilities informing them that they are to have their registration either denied or cancelled. There is already a severe strain on the system and the closure of more units will add to that pressure.
“We need to see immediate action to tackle this deepening crisis. The promises made by this Government no longer hold any water with the families and the residents who are living in these units. There needs to be an extensive reform of the system and resources must be found to fund it. We have had an abundance of reports without any concrete proposals to tackle the very serious problems outlined in them”.