Sunday 18 March 2018

Families of more than 200 children and adults with disabilities assured services in west will remain

Sarah Stack

Sarah Stack

FAMILIES of more than 200 children and adults with intellectual disabilities have been assured services in the west will remain open.

The Daughters of Wisdom revealed it plans to pull out of Cregg House in Sligo because of underfunding after talks broke down with health chiefs.

The religious order, which has run the centre for 60 years, claims it cannot bridge the gap caused by a €1.3m cut to its allocation of funding of the Health Service Executive (HSE).

Minister of State Kathleen Lynch revealed a transition process is being put in place to assess the most appropriate way to continue service provision for all existing clients.

"I would like to reassure the families of the children and adults of people with disabilities who are currently receiving services that their service will continue to be provided," said Ms Lynch, who has responsibility for disability services.

"I am requesting the HSE to work with Wisdom Services to ensure continuity of service for all clients while a transition process is being put in place."

Ms Lynch said the HSE had been working with Wisdom Services to address their financial concerns and identify opportunities for efficiencies and savings, through potential new combinations of service delivery in the north-west area.

"Unfortunately, despite detailed engagement with the HSE, I regret that Wisdom Services has now decided to withdraw from service provision," she added.

Wisdom Services is a voluntary body operated by the Daughters of Wisdom which supports 215 service users from a wide area, with 120 on campus, 75 in the community and 20 day attendees.

It was allocated €15.5m by HSE in 2012.

But Fianna Fail's Charlie McConalogue, who raised the issue during Leader's Questions, said the treatment of the order, users and their families was a national scandal.

He said 214 families in the north-west faced a very distressing situation and were in shock when they heard the Daughters of Wisdom announced they would no longer be providing services in Cregg House.

"They believe that the HSE's under-funding of the centre by €1.3m makes it impossible for them to continue with the services they have provided so well until today," he said

"This critically-important service is at risk because the Government is not prepared to provide sufficient funding.

"We all know that efficiencies are necessary and that more must be achieved with less resources.

"But the obvious underfunding of essential frontline services in the north-west by this Government is simply indefensible, and should be immediately reversed."

Elsewhere, Michael Colreavy, Sinn Fein TD for Sligo/North Leitrim, said he was disappointed over the breakdown in talks between the management of Cregg House and the HSE.

"The HSE must now step up to the mark and take full responsibility for Cregg House," he said.

"However, the handling of the Cregg House issue by the HSE has, so far, been a failure.

"The patients of Cregg House should be a priority and the high standard of service that has been provided by the Daughters of Wisdom must be continued by the HSE."

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