'We're at our wits' end' - Man waiting for disability care stuck in hospital bed 16 weeks after he was cleared to leave
A young man has been trapped in a hospital bed for months as a result of a lack of funding for emergency disability care in his region.
Darragh Stakelum (29) was cleared to be released from Cork University Hospital (CUH) 16 weeks ago but hasn't been able to leave as there's no funding for a place at a rehabilitation centre where he can continue his recovery.
The Tipperary man began to lose his sight at 26 and later became totally blind.
He was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumour last year and underwent extensive treatment at CUH but now suffers from short-term memory loss. His family is hoping he can be admitted to a rehabilitation centre in Co Waterford where his treatment can continue.
However, the HSE has said there is no funding for this care, despite the costs at the centre being lower than staying in an acute hospital bed.
Mr Stakelum's mother Breda told the Irish Independent: "We're at our wits' end. With Darragh's blindness, he needs somebody there all the time and we're trying to work. I've cut my hours back as much as I can."
Ms Stakelum and her husband Jim have been travelling to CUH to provide support for Darragh, as has his partner Orla and brother Cathal.
"We feel deserted and that we're in a situation where we're begging for Darragh to have funding to go ahead with his life," Ms Stakelum added.
Her son's case has been raised with Health Minister Simon Harris by Tipperary TD Jackie Cahill.
It comes after the HSE in the mid-west region told the Fianna Fáil TD that its 2019 budget for disability emergency placements, of the kind Mr Stakelum needs, has already been fully expended.
The cost of Mr Stakelum's care for a year at the rehabilitation centre in Mooncoin, Co Waterford, is around €150,000.
Mr Cahill put the cost of beds in an acute hospital at more than €1,000 per night.
He argued that the case shows "the inability of the HSE to be flexible and make sensible decisions".
Mr Cahill said that the place at the rehabilitation centre is "roughly a third of the acute bed cost for the year", adding: "There's absolutely no logic to it."
Ms Stakelum said it is "very frustrating" that funding is there for her son to stay in the CUH bed but there's no budget for the rehabilitation centre.
Last night a HSE spokesperson said the organisation could not comment on individual cases.
They said maintaining a client's confidentiality was not only an ethical requirement for the HSE but also a legal requirement, and a patient or family making information public did not relieve the HSE of this requirement.
A statement said: "HSE Mid West Community Healthcare has actively engaged with the family on this matter."
The HSE said its budget for disability care in the region was €167.5m and "to accommodate additional emergency pressures in 2019 this allocation included €1.6m of new funding for new placements".