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HSE slammed for cutting services at south Donegal respite centre

The HSE has been severely criticised for reducing services at a respite centre for children and adults with intellectual disabilities

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Donegal families protest over respite services

Families of users of Seaview House in Mountcharles protesting at cuts to respite services at the centre last June at the HSE headquarters in Ballyshannon.

Local representatives have slammed the HSE over the failure to restore full services to a respite centre for children and adults with intellectual disabilities in south Donegal.

The HSE has been severely criticised for reducing services at Seaview Respite House in Mountcharles which is used by around 100 families.

Services were cut back early last year. The HSE said the cuts were a result of staff shortages due to illness leave and retirement.  Parents protested at the HSE headquarters in Ballyshannon in June.

The HSE provided a statement to the Donegal Municipal District meeting on Tuesday after a member of HSE management who was due to attend the meeting to discuss the situation at the centre failed to show up, citing illness.

Cllr Barry O’Neill  (FG) said it was the third time the HSE had failed to show up at a  council meeting to discuss the issue after being requested to do so by councillors .

In the statement, the HSE said the service operates three nights a week and that it is “currently configuring service provision to put in place a sustainable planned respite service which will meet current and emerging need for the population of south-west Donegal”.

“We are working in consultation with the national system and envisage that this will realise a considerable increase in the provision of respite services.

“HSE management  is aware of the importance of this service for families in south-west Donegal  and apologise for the difficulties that this situation is causing for everyone involved.”

Cllr Noel Joran (SF) told the January meeting of the municipal district that the HSE had given a commitment in June last year that a  full service would be restored.

“The parents of the service users were very patient and it is not acceptable,” he said.

“I ask that we write back and ask why have they not resumed full services.”

Cllr O’Neil said he was concerned by the statement from the HSE.

“To be honest the terminology in this statement would concern me,” he said, “It is a sad indictment of the health service.”

He said he had met with families who use the service in recent days ahead of the expected attendance by the HSE at the meeting.

He said one family have two children who use the service.

“ For them to get the call that respite would not be taking place in the run into Christmas was very disappointing. This is a serious situation.”

He called on the HSE to come to the next meeting and explain the situation at the centre .

“They need to get their house in order and not take the hand out of the most severely challenged people in society. It is an absolute disgrace.”

The centre was not open three nights a week 12 months ago, he said.

“People need to have the same service they would get in Dublin, Cork, Sligo; anywhere else. They should get the same service in south Donegal.”