Deputy Pearse Doherty
Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Deputy Pearse Doherty has blasted the Government over the ongoing staffing issues at Seaview House in Mountcharles after it was recently revealed that respite services at the centre have now been reduced to just three nights per week due to staff shortages.
In a statement released by the party, they claim that over the last eight years some €1.6m has been stripped from the facility’s annual Health Service Executive (HSE) budget allocation.
Deputy Doherty said: “As many people are well aware, I have been repeatedly raising the issue of inadequate staffing levels at Seaview House in Mountcharles for many months now after it was first reported that respite services were being curtailed at the unit for service users and their families."
He added that last January, the Government conceded that staff shortages at the centre were due to staff transfers and retirements and that this had resulted in service disruptions.
Deputy Doherty said: "I was informed by the HSE in June that efforts were ongoing to recruit personnel to a number of vacancies at the unit, including three vacant nursing posts. Then prior to the Dáil summer recess I raised the ongoing staff shortages with the HSE, and I was informed then that staffing arrangements were being constantly reviewed by service managers with any issues to be brought to the attention of senior management."
The Goath Dobhair-based public representative said that despite all the assurances from both the Government and the HSE, respite services continue to be affected due to staffing issues at the facility, and only in the last few days in fact it was confirmed that the unit only has enough staff to provide three nights of respite care per week.
Deputy Doherty said: "This is hardly surprising when you examine the funding allocations provided to Seaview House over the last number of years. In fact, between 2008 and 2016, a total of €1,643,400 has been taken from the unit’s budget which is provided each year by the HSE. This is massive cut by any stretch of the imagination, yet Fine Gael continues to engage in the type of spin so favoured by this Government that it would make even the most ardent propagandist blush."
Deputy Doherty has again tabled Dáil Questions to the Minister seeking answers in relation to new reports which he has received from service users that the facility is likely to again experience yet more disruptions to services in the coming weeks owing to maternity and parental leave entitlements being taken by staff working at the unit in Mountcharles, and concerns that the HSE has yet to source additional staff to fill those gaps.
He said: “Clearly, staff, service users and their families deserve much better than to be repeatedly let down like this. They need reassurances that services will be restored in full, not spin lacking in substance which is what this Government serves up to them on an almost daily basis.”