Sunday 19 May 2019

Rehab row with HSE threatens services

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Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Vital services for thousands of disabled children and adults are at risk because of a funding row between the charity Rehab and the HSE.

Rehab has threatened to pull services it provides to the HSE amid a long-running row over funding. The charity is seeking €2m from the HSE to cover the costs of the services it provides to the State.

However, Department of Health officials are concerned that other charities will seek additional funding if they make the payment to Rehab.

The charity will make a final decision on the issue on Wednesday which might result in its contract with the HSE being terminated.

However, Rehab is obliged to give the HSE 12 months' notice if it plans to withdraw services, so services cannot be entirely pulled until next year.

The funding row will make uneasy reading for families who rely on the charity for services.

Department of Health sources said they were confident an agreement could be reached with the charity.

Rehab provides a range of services for children and adults as well as respite care for family members caring for a disabled loved one.

The charity receives funding from the HSE but is not wholly funded by the State.

Rehab and the HSE clashed five years ago over pay to senior members of the charity.

The row resulted in the charity's former chief executive Angela Kerins resigning.

Ms Kerins took a successful legal case against the Dail's Public Accounts Committee over the treatment she endured during a hearing in Leinster House.

Rehab has 49 resource centres across the country where it cares for people with disabilities, including intellectual disabilities, mental health issues, physical disabilities, autism, sensory disabilities, rare disorders and brain injuries.

It also provides specialised services to people in their own homes. The charity has more than 1,000 staff who care for around 3,000 of the country's most vulnerable people.

A Rehab spokeswoman said: "We urgently need €2m to meet funding deficits incurred as a result of the higher care costs of people using our services as they age, the burgeoning costs of meeting new HIQA and HSE regulatory requirements which result in expenditure on extra staff and property upgrading coupled with a massive hike in insurance costs.

"Rehab Group cannot continue to fund the significant losses incurred in providing these services."

Sunday Independent

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