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Devastating home help cuts save just €1.3m as HSE struggles to meet target

THE health service will not meet its €8m target in savings generated by cuts in home help services.

Figures supplied by the Health Service Executive (HSE) show that just €1.3m has been saved so far.

This is despite thousands of people having their home help hours cut or removed in a controversial bid to help the HSE to reduce its huge deficit.

The savings have been described as "paltry" by Independent TD Denis Naughton, who said it was not worth the suffering it had caused to the people affected.

He said with just six weeks to go to the end of the year the target of €8m in cuts would not be met.

The rate of savings will slow down even further following new rules issued by the HSE which require that everyone whose home help hours may be affected must be assessed in advance.

Health Minister James Reilly has admitted this level of assessment will slow down the process but he said it was essential this is carried out in advance before any decisions are made. The HSE has not been able to get the savings it needed not just from home help but also cuts in overtime and agency staff in hospitals.

The former Fine Gael member said the minister should immediately seek a detailed explanation from the HSE as to why they targeted home help cuts when it was highly evident that it would not, in any way, achieve its target.

"Instead they caused huge fear to those being supported in remaining in their own homes. This issue raises fundamental questions regarding the competency of the HSE to set targets, let alone its ability to actually deliver these savings," he said.

Irish Independent