Pat Casey T.D.
Public Representative for Wicklow/East Carlow

Pat Casey T.D.Public Representative for Wicklow/East Carlow


Sunbeam Merger on Hold Until Crises Resolved, 15/11/2017


Sunbeam merger on hold until crisis issues are resolved 

-Casey received assurances from Minister Harris that the merger is on hold and “further actions may be necessary” -

13/07/2017

Wicklow Fianna Fáil TD Pat Casey has said that the service users, the families of service users and front line staff must be at the centre of all actions aimed at resolving the crisis at the Bray, Wicklow and Arklow facilities.

Deputy Casey raised the serious complaints in relation to Sunbeam House Services at a special Topical Issues debate yesterday in Dáil Eireann. “The removal of the assurance report from the HSE website has convinced me that I needed to bring these issues directly to the Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, and for a publicly accountable response on the floor of the Dáil. I am also concerned about the apparent lack of a protected disclosures policy at Sunbeam House Services. Given the responsibility of care given to any organisation providing services to adults with intellectual disabilities, the absence of such a policy is, quite simply, disgraceful. The families need to know if protected disclosures have been made to the HSE or to Sunbeam House Services, the number and gravity of such disclosures and the response to such disclosures, including reporting to the Garda where required.”

“From my contact with some families I know they have been very reluctant to go public because of a deep seated fear that their loved ones' level of service may be affected. The fact that family members of service users are living in fear is enough of a disgrace to warrant a serious, rapid and public response from the HSE and from the Minister.”

The Wicklow TD continued in thanking the Minister for his response “and for his confirmation that he is meeting immediately with the HSE on this matter. I am also delighted to see that he is meeting formally with the families tomorrow. This is what is needed. Now that action is being taken a public response is needed that all service users, the families of service users and front-line staff can take confidence in. There needs to be a rapid, time-bound approach to every single recommendation contained within the reports into Sunbeam House Services.”

Speaking in relation to the proposed merger “The Minister will be aware of the proposed merger involving Sunbeam House Services, KARE and St. Catherine's, which would, in effect, bring the entire service offered to those adults with intellectual disabilities in Wicklow under one managing entity. It is my information that the insurance report recommends this merger be put on hold until such time as the issues in respect of Sunbeam House Services has been resolved. I would ask that he come back to me on it. I also ask that he ensure that, at a minimum, this recommendation is followed”

After the debate Deputy Casey concluded by stating that “I am happy that Minister Harris confirmed to me in the Dáil that the merger is now on hold and that all recommendations and complaints would be fully investigated and resolved and that further actions may be necessary. This is vital if we are to restore the confidence of the service users, their families and the front line staff who do such Trojan work every day.”


Sunbeam Should Involve Families in Resolving the Crisis, 15/11/2017


Sunbeam families must be involved in resolving the crisis – Pat Casey TD

Assurance report raises very serious concerns about services at Sunbeam -

10/07/2017

Wicklow Fianna Fáil TD Pat Casey has said that the families of service users and residents of Sunbeam House Services must be at the centre of all measures aimed at resolving the crisis at the Bray and Arklow facilities.

“I have been in contact with family members of Sunbeam services who were so anxious about the care of their family members that they would only contact me on the strict condition of anonymity. The Assurance report which was initially published on the HSE website and then removed proves that the families were correct to highlight very serious failings of management procedures at Sunbeam.”

“I have discussed the issue with Minister Simon Harris and I welcome the fact that he is meeting with the families this week. However I have asked parliamentary questions into whether he and his department are satisfied that the terms of reference of the report were adequate to cover all complaints and allegations including protected disclosures. I have also asked for a detailed timeline on the implementation of all recommendations contained within the report. I am also going to submit a topical issue request to allow the Minister to address this issue in the Dáil this week”

“There are many dedicated and conscientious staff in Sunbeam who must also be commended for ensuring that these serious failings were brought to light. The provision of day services, respite and residential services to the most vulnerable people in our community must be retained but they must also be of the highest quality and have the full confidence of all families of service users.”

“I would also have serious concerns about the proposed merger between Sunbeam House Services and KARE in the light of these reports both the HIQUA inspections and the Assurance report. A review needs to be conducted as to the conditions attached to such a merger and that the concerns of all families of both organisations are fully acknowledged and responded to.”


Independent Investigation into Sunbeam Practices Welcome, 15/11/2017


Independent Investigation into Sunbeam House Service complaints is welcome – Casey

11/05/2017

- Service Users and Frontline staff must be protected -

Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow/East Carlow Pat Casey TD has welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Health Simon Harris TD of a full independent investigation into complaints made against Sunbeam House Services.

“I have been working with concerned families whose relatives are service users in Sunbeam House Services and I am satisfied that their legitimate worries have been validated with the announcement of this investigation. I also welcome the re-publication on the HSE website of the Jeyes report which was removed and caused unnecessary stress for the families.”

“It is vital that this independent investigation provide a full probe into all the complaints that the families wish to be addressed. The trust placed on these services is immense and the service users and their families require closure and assurance that Sunbeam upholds to the best standards of care. In that regard the forensic audit to be undertaken by Deloitte should also provide answers to concerns raised about SHS Management.”

“I am also very aware that the dedicated and highly trained frontline staff in Sunbeam House Services have been under extra pressure because of the cloud of doubt that has existed about these serious complaints. It is vital that their excellent work, day in day out is recognised and valued and this investigation must vindicate that work.”

“I still have concerns about the proposed merger between Sunbeam, KARE and St Catherine’s and it should not be taken any further until full consultation has taken place with all the families involved in all organisations. Personally I am a strong believer in these services being located throughout Wicklow in order to ensure ease of access and would have concerns about the status of some sites if a merger was pushed through, concluded the Wicklow Deputy.”


Sudden Closure of Sunbeam Day Service Cruel to Families, 15/11/2017


Sudden closure of START day service at Sunbeam a cruel blow to families – Pat Casey TD

28/07/2017

- Families given less than 24 hours notice is shocking and unacceptable –

- Sunbeam management and HSE need to respond immediately (today) to families –

Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow/East Carlow Pat Casey has expressed his shock and anger at the sudden decision by Sunbeam to close its START day service from today until the 20 August.

“The service users and their families were only informed yesterday at 4pm by the manager of the START day service in Bray that it was shutting the following day until the 20th of August due to an inability to deliver a safe and effective service. It is the function of management and the HSE as funder to ensure a safe and effective service, so this decision reflects a complete failure to these families by management and the HSE”, commented the Wicklow TD.

“Service users and their families have been left high and dry with no contingency plan in place as of yet. The families have been warning about this service for over two years now and the sudden closure is the worst possible outcome for these hard pressed people who require a day service.”

“I am calling for an immediate and emergency response to this closure today from Sunbeam House Services and the HSE. The twenty families concerned need to be contacted today as to arrangements that will be put in place for a day service for their loved ones. These service users need routine in their care plan and this closure and the way it has been announced is a total disgrace that warrants investigation and total disclosure to the service users and their families”.

“I have spoken to members of the Sunbeam House advocacy group that represents the families and I will be engaging directly with the HSE to ensure that adequate contingency cover is put in place that ensures that this never happens to families again,” concluded Deputy Casey.


SNA Allocation Delay Unacceptable, 13/10/2017


Delay in Wicklow SNA allocations won’t be acceptable

 Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow Pat Casey has warned the Government that any delays in allocating Special Needs Assistants (SNA’s) to schools next summer will not be acceptable. Deputy Casey made the comments after it was announced that an additional 1,090 SNA positions are being allocated following Budget 2018.

“Last summer Wicklow schools faced significant delays with the allocation of SNA’s. The delay meant that SNAs were only allocated to children well after schools were closed for the summer. The delay this year was particularly bad but delays are occurring on a yearly basis, and are leading to deep uncertainty for schools, parents and people employed as SNAs.”

Deputy Casey said, “Each year, Wicklow’s school principals and boards of management are faced with the charade of waiting to hear whether or not the Minister of the day decides to announce allocations to meet additional special needs that arise as a result of demographic changes and increases in individual students’ assessed needs in their schools.

“This year was a case in point. The Minister held out until the very last minute, until after the end of the school year, before announcing this demographic allocation. We have raised this issue with the Government on a number of occasions and Fianna Fáil is demanding that this budgetary announcement is put into place well before next summer's school holidays.

“The SNA allocation policy, put in place by Fianna Fáil in 1998, meant that for the first time a child with a special educational need had the right to additional teaching or care supports in a school. However this policy was deeply eroded under the last Government.

“Schools cannot properly plan their special education provision due to the uncertainty surrounding the programme each year. This also means that people employed as SNAs do not know whether they can be retained the following September; a level of employment uncertainty that many excellent SNAs just cannot live with.

“The SNA allocation model needs to be looked at, as it is not providing the best outcomes for children. At the very least, we need NCSE forecasts of future demand, which has been promised but we haven't got yet. Although 1091 extra SNAs are budgeted now for next year, we have no way of knowing whether this is too little, too much, or just enough to meet rising population.”


Tallaght Hospital Overcrowding is Deeply Worrying, 28/09/2017


Overcrowding in Tallaght hospital is deeply worrying

Wicklow Fianna Fáil TD Pat Casey has said that he is deeply worried about patient safety at Tallaght Hospital following correspondence Fianna Fáil received from an Emergency Medicine consultant at the hospital.

“Fianna Fáil received a detailed and clear email about the state of overcrowding in Tallaght hospital’s Emergency Department. This hospital caters for many Wicklow patients particularly in West and South Wicklow.”

“It sets out the crisis that is engulfing the hospital on a near daily basis. Last night alone, there were 29 people on trolleys awaiting admission with two people waiting longer than two days.”

“Overcrowding in EDs is also causing knock on effects for the ambulance service.

“It’s simply not good enough that nearly 16 months after the Government began their Winter Initiative that one of the busiest hospitals in the country has such consistent levels of overcrowding.

“When senior Emergency Medicine specialists are concerned about patient safety to the extent that they must contact political parties, it’s a damning indictment of the Fine Gael failure’s in Health to deal with the dangerous levels of overcrowding.

“Winter hasn’t properly set in yet there were 417 people on trolleys last night across the country. At what stage will this Government accept that their strategy is failing, and failing terribly in certain parts of the country such as South and West Wicklow”

“If you ask any Emergency Medicine specialist they will tell you that the way to fix the overcrowding in our EDs is twofold: increase bed capacity in our acute hospitals and utilise our community hospital network to provide step down facilities for patients who while still requiring care do not need to be in an acute hospital setting.”

“The Government will deliver the same line about waiting for a bed capacity review, but the facts are clear: the number of acute hospital beds has been reduced since 2012 while our population, and in particular the number of older people, has grown.”

“Enough is enough. Before it gets any worse, this Government needs to accept that their plan is failing and try another strategy,” concluded Casey.


Questions Need Answering Regarding Wicklow Ambulance Services, 18/09/2017


HSE have serious questions to answer about ambulance services in Co Wicklow – Pat Casey TD

Is South Wicklow subject to a reduced ambulance service? – Casey


Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow Pat Casey expressed his serious concerns about the level of ambulance cover for South Wicklow after an incident at a soccer match in Arklow yesterday resulted in an air ambulance being utilised.

“I have nothing but praise for how the emergency services responded yesterday but I do think that questions are again being raised about whether South Wicklow has an appropriate level of ambulance service. The expense of the air ambulance service would suggest that an additional ambulance to cover South and West Wicklow is justified.”

“In January last I asked for information in relation to Wicklow ambulance stations and I was informed that Arklow does not have a service on Tuesday daytime and Baltinglass does not operate on a Monday from 8am to 8pm along with Tallaght. This seems to stem from new rostering put in place in 2012 and that this affects the North Leinster region.”

“It was confirmed to me by the National Ambulance Service that South and West Wicklow ambulance services operate for 61/2 days and not 7 days a week. This is unacceptable. A change from 24/7 cover is a matter of serious public concern and the FG Government should have ensured that the people of Wicklow were fully informed in any reduction of services.”

“This means that the Government and the HSE operates a two tier ambulance service. A 7 day a week service for North and East and a 6.5 day service for South and West Wicklow. Events in Arklow prove why this is unjustifiable and I am calling on Minister Harris to investigate as to why this has occurred and to restore our ambulance services in all parts of Wicklow to 24/7.”

“For example West Wicklow which is covered by Naas, Tallaght and Baltinglass for 6 ½ days is only covered by Naas on a Monday from 8am to 8pm. Closing Tallaght and Baltinglass on the same day puts an unacceptable pressure on response times and puts people’s lives in danger. The HSE must address this deeply flawed rostering system immediately and I want Minister Harris to instruct the HSE to explain how this was allowed to happen.

“Wicklow’s ambulance service is a critical and trusted part of our health system. The events of this weekend do not serve to build confidence in the response times that the people of Wicklow are entitled to expect. I will be asking further questions about this in the Dáil this week.”


Wicklow Lives at Risk with Poor Ambulance Turnaround Times, 24/08/2017


Wicklow Lives at risk until ambulance turn around targets are met - Casey

- Three in four ambulances miss 20 min turnaround target -


Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow Pat Casey has said that unless ambulance turnaround times improve, lives will continue to be put at risk.

Deputy Casey was commenting after receiving information from the HSE about turnaround times at every hospital in the country that receives emergency ambulances.

“The fact that just one in four ambulance visits met the 20 minute turnaround is a scandal, and I don’t see it improving any time soon.

“Of the 21,373 visits by ambulances to our hospitals, just 5,377 were completed within the required 20 minute deadline.

“Every minute an ambulance spends at Emergency Department is a minute it isn’t in the community available to answer emergency call outs.

“There’s no point denying the reality of this – when ambulances are stuck at hospitals, there will be situations where sick people, sometimes critically ill, are left waiting for attention. Lives will be lost if this situation isn’t dealt with.

“There are, of course, exceptional circumstances where it may take longer to turnaround an ambulance, but it is now the norm for ambulances to miss the 20 min deadline.

“I am very concerned by the number of hospitals that are not only failing to meet the 20 min deadline are missing them by significant margins.

“It is well known that many parts of Wicklow have a significant waiting time for an Ambulance to even arrive of between minimum 40 minutes to 90 minutes. In Arklow we are still awaiting the restoration of a 7 day service based out of the station at Castlepark. Currently there is no service from the Arklow station on daytime on Tuesday.”

“The Government needs to work with the National Ambulance Service and the HSE National Hospital Managers to identify why these targets are not been met and to put in place implementation and oversight mechanisms to ensure that they are met into the future.

“Having ambulances out of action is not acceptable. These figures should be used as a wakeup call by the Government to address the challenges in our emergency health departments,” concluded Deputy Casey. 


Wicklow Child & Adolescent Mental Health Crisis Continues, 17/08/2017


Wicklow Child & Adolescent Mental Health Crisis continues

221 Wicklow Children and Adolescents waiting for mental health services

-Jigsaw still waiting for a premises in Bray with no support service planned for South and West Wicklow-

New figures provided to Fianna Fail show that there were 7,485 people waiting for a primary care psychology appointment at the end of June 2017.  The stats reveal that 5,954 children are on the list for an appointment, while 1,784 of them have been waiting over a year to be seen.

Fianna Fáil TD Pat Casey says the figures are clear evidence of a crisis in the provision of mental health services for children and adolescents.

“The fact is that almost one in three children nationally waiting for an appointment has been on a list for over a year. It’s simply unacceptable that so many should wait so long. Vulnerable children and teenagers need this service and we have an obligation to provide it”, explained Deputy Casey.

“There are significant regional variations in these figures. My own county of Wicklow has 221 children and adolescents on a mental service waiting list. That is a figure of those who have presented themselves for help. As we know, in the area of mental health it is hard to diagnose and encourage those with difficulties to seek help. How many more children and adolescents in Wicklow are suffering in silence?”

“We are still awaiting the Jigsaw project for Bray which is being held up for bureaucratic delays. This Government is supposed to be prioritising mental health yet the facts betray a lack of drive in getting services, staff and budgets in place on the ground. There are still no plans for youth mental health support services such as Jigsaw for South and West Wicklow. Are young people living in South and West Wicklow not entitled to the same services?”

“This information comes just days after we received figures for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services which showed a 28% increase nationally since November in the numbers on those waiting lists.

“Growing up in Ireland today can pose enormous mental challenges for young people. As in so many areas, early intervention is critical and if we are seeing waiting times of over a year, our care services are failing. This is a crisis and we need to tackle it.”


Fianna Fail Mental Health Bill Passes Unanimously, 17/07/2017


FF Mental Health Bill passed unanimously but Jigsaw for Bray is still being delayed – Pat Casey TD

The Dáil debated and passed a Bill today put forward by Fianna Fáil aimed at reforming Ireland’s mental health services.

The Mental Health (Amendment) (No.2) Bill 2017 was debated and passed by the Dáil today.

Fianna Fáil’s Pat Casey TD said, “This Bill aims to reform Ireland’s mental health services by insisting on the implementation of the recommendations contained in the 2015 report on the Expert Group on the Review of the Mental Health Act.

“Serious issues have been identified with our mental health services and it is important that the Dáil provides the necessary leadership to tackle these problems. Demand for mental health services has increased significantly in recent years and we must do more to protect the well-being of patients and ensure that the State meets its obligations under international human rights law.

“There has been much talk by Fine Gael about reforming our mental health services in recent years but the Government has failed to take decisive action on the issue. This is why Fianna Fáil put forward this Bill and why we are insisting on it being dealt with before the summer recess.”

“In Wicklow there is a chronic lack of mental health services for our young people. The Jigsaw project which provides excellent services for young people in the area of positive mental health promotion has been trying for years to establish a Wicklow service based in Bray. However as of now there still is a delay in securing a premises and the funding to establish the service. This is very frustrating as there is supposed to be agreement by the HSE, Wicklow County Council and Bray Partnership on this and I will be seeking urgent clairifcation on this over the summer. This service needs to be up and running as soon as possible.”


FF Bill will help Wicklow’s Mental Health Emergency - Casey, 27/06/2017


Wicklow Fianna Fáil TD Pat Casey says a new Bill put forward by his party will bring about much needed reform to mental health services right across the county.

The ‘Mental Health (Amendment) Bill 2017’ seeks to implement many of the recommendations contained in the 2015 report of the Expert Group on the Review of the Mental Health Act 2001.

Deputy Casey said, “It’s well acknowledged that significant reform of our mental health services is necessary.  The Expert Group on the Review of the Mental Health Act made 165 recommendations surrounding the need to modernise structures and practices with our mental health services. However to date just one of these recommendations has been implemented. The Bill we have introduced will speed up the pace of reform.
“In Wicklow I have been shocked at the chronic shortage of mental health services throughout the county from the lack of child and adolescent services known as CAMHS due to severe staff shortages, to the stalled process in getting the vital Jigsaw youth mental health project up and running in Bray. In rural Wicklow there are hardly any mental health services of any kind at all while the stigma attached to mental illness still remains a significant barrier to people seeking treatments. Just this weekend thousands of Wicklow people will try to raise awareness of suicide by participating in the Darkness into Light walk.”

“The Bill will deliver immediate improvements and legislative protections for adults and children accessing mental health services. It will also contribute to the Irish Government’s fulfillment of international human rights laws, including the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

“One of the key changes put forward in the Bill is the clarification of the definition of a voluntary patient. The new definition will only include individuals with decision-making capacity and who have consented to admission for treatment. The Bill also enshrines the right for the patient to receive the highest attainable standard of mental health care and the right to receive the least restrictive treatment possible.

“The Bill will also reform the manner in which our mental health services care for children. It includes a new provision to ensure that each child has the right to be heard in decisions made regarding their treatment. Importantly, the Bill also affirms that consent to treatment is required by both voluntary and involuntary patients who have decision-making capacity to consent.

“It’s been clear for some time now that urgent reform is needed in our mental health services. The Bill we have put forward will help drive this reform in the right direction. I’m hopeful that the Bill receives cross-party support in the Dáil so that this reform can begin without any further delay. Fianna Fáil is also pushing for the establishment of an Oireachtas Committee on Mental Health. The purpose of this committee will be to monitor the reform of our mental health services and ensure that the issue is not allowed fall off the Government agenda,” concluded Deputy Casey.


Fianna Fail Bill will help Wicklow's Mental Health Emergency, 05/05/2017


FF Bill will help Wicklow’s Mental Health Emergency - Casey

Wicklow Fianna Fáil TD Pat Casey says a new Bill put forward by his party will bring about much needed reform to mental health services right across the county.

The ‘Mental Health (Amendment) Bill 2017’ seeks to implement many of the recommendations contained in the 2015 report of the Expert Group on the Review of the Mental Health Act 2001.

Deputy Casey said, “It’s well acknowledged that significant reform of our mental health services is necessary.  The Expert Group on the Review of the Mental Health Act made 165 recommendations surrounding the need to modernise structures and practices with our mental health services. However to date just one of these recommendations has been implemented. The Bill we have introduced will speed up the pace of reform.

“In Wicklow I have been shocked at the chronic shortage of mental health services throughout the county from the lack of child and adolescent services known as CAMHS due to severe staff shortages, to the stalled process in getting the vital Jigsaw youth mental health project up and running in Bray. In rural Wicklow there are hardly any mental health services of any kind at all while the stigma attached to mental illness still remains a significant barrier to people seeking treatments. Just this weekend thousands of Wicklow people will try to raise awareness of suicide by participating in the Darkness into Light walk.”

“The Bill will deliver immediate improvements and legislative protections for adults and children accessing mental health services. It will also contribute to the Irish Government’s fulfillment of international human rights laws, including the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

“One of the key changes put forward in the Bill is the clarification of the definition of a voluntary patient. The new definition will only include individuals with decision-making capacity and who have consented to admission for treatment. The Bill also enshrines the right for the patient to receive the highest attainable standard of mental health care and the right to receive the least restrictive treatment possible.

“The Bill will also reform the manner in which our mental health services care for children. It includes a new provision to ensure that each child has the right to be heard in decisions made regarding their treatment. Importantly, the Bill also affirms that consent to treatment is required by both voluntary and involuntary patients who have decision-making capacity to consent.

“It’s been clear for some time now that urgent reform is needed in our mental health services. The Bill we have put forward will help drive this reform in the right direction. I’m hopeful that the Bill receives cross-party support in the Dáil so that this reform can begin without any further delay. Fianna Fáil is also pushing for the establishment of an Oireachtas Committee on Mental Health. The purpose of this committee will be to monitor the reform of our mental health services and ensure that the issue is not allowed fall off the Government agenda,” concluded Deputy Casey.


Lack of Psychological Services in Schools a Scandal, 13/03/2017


14 Wicklow Schools without psychological service (NEPS) is a scandal - Casey
- Minister Bruton must redress this discrimination immediately-

Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow Pat Casey told the Dáil last night that the scale of the crisis facing psychological services in Wicklow schools is far worse than initially feared.

Fianna Fáil have previously highlighted that 299 schools across Ireland do not have access to a psychologist service. However the Department of Education has since corrected a parliamentary reply issued by Minister Bruton and have outlined that there are in fact 397 schools left without a psychologist service.

“The National Educational Psychological Service provides a vital service by professionally assessing whether additional learning supports should be provided in schools to children in need of them. For parents and teachers who wish to access additional teaching resources for these children, the student must first be assessed by a psychiatrist.

For these parents, their children and the teachers of the school this is a vulnerable and stressful time. The very least that the Government can do is to ensure that this service will be provided to all schools.

I was shocked and angry, when my colleague Thomas Byrne confirmed to me that there are 14 schools in Wicklow that have NO access to this NEPS service.

There are 4 primary schools in Arklow, 3 primary schools in Greystones, and national schools in Wicklow Town, Baltinglass, Donard, Enniskerry, Stratford-on-Slaney, Rathdangan and a post primary school in Bray that have NO access to an assigned NEPS psychologist in 2017.

Parents in these schools have no option but to get a private consultation in order to justify the additional resources that their child needs. This can cost more than €1000 and that is beyond the reach of many families in these Wicklow schools.

For parents who cannot afford this sum of money, their children will not be assessed and therefore will have no access to the learning supports that they need to reach their full potential. It seems that under this Government, some of our children CAN be left behind.

Minister Bruton needs to confirm, to all those schools, to all those parents and most importantly to all those children that every child will have access to NEPS no matter where they go to school. What happened to equal access to education for all of our children? This is a scandal. This must be put right and put right NOW.


New Regulations Further Affect Childcare Crisis, 23/02/2017


 

Wicklow Childcare crisis is on the cards as new regulations impact staff ratios 

- CE participants will no longer be included in teacher-pupil ratio -

Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow, Pat Casey has expressed concern over new changes to the Childcare Community Employment scheme, which will have serious staffing implications for community crèches across the county.

The new regulations, which were introduced in January, see changes to the way adult:child ratios are calculated, and now no longer include Community Employment Scheme workers.  This means that community crèches are facing a choice between taking on more staff, or, reducing the number of places they offer.

Deputy Casey commented, “The latest information released to me reveals that there were 42 Community Employment workers employed in Wicklow community childcare settings in 2016.  This highlights the huge reliance on CE workers within the community childcare sector, and as a result, the changes brought in last month will have serious ramifications for community crèches throughout Wicklow.

“I, and my parliamentary colleagues, have met with community crèche managers who are telling us that this situation is completely unsustainable. They have repeatedly told the Minister for Social Protection that if they don’t receive additional funding, they will be forced to charge increased fees to avoid closure.

“Fianna Fáil acknowledges the need for quality childcare, and we understand that the Community Employment scheme was always intended as something to supplement, rather than replace, the existing workforce. That is not the issue here, however.  As a result of the Government’s failure to increase capitation rates, many community childcare facilities are reliant on CE workers to ensure they remain sustainable.

“The current model is not a viable long term option and I am calling on Minister Varadkar to close this funding gap, before community crèches are forced to close”.


HSE Must Answer Ambulance Service Questions, 06/01/2017


HSE have serious questions to answer about ambulance services in Co Wicklow 

Why is West & South Wicklow subject to a reduced ambulance service? – Casey


Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow Pat Casey expressed his deep shock about information he has received from the HSE that reveals that the Ambulance service in South and West Wicklow is not operating on a 24/7 basis contrary to public opinion.

“Following a tragic incident in Arklow on Tuesday I asked the National Ambulance Service to confirm the level of service in the Arklow station. I was shocked when it was confirmed that Arklow does not operate on a Tuesday from 8am to 8pm and this has been the case since September 2012.”

“I then asked for information in relation to additional Wicklow stations and I was informed that Baltinglass does not operate on a Monday from 8am to 8pm along with Tallaght. This seems to stem from new rostering put in place in 2012 and that this affects the North Leinster region.”

“It has been confirmed to me by the National Ambulance Service that South and West Wicklow ambulance services operate for 61/2 days and not 7 days a week.  This is unacceptable and how this information is only being made public now is also a disgrace. Public representatives should have been informed when this decision was made and the general public made aware of this change in service. A change from 24/7 cover is a matter of serious public concern and the Government should have ensured that the people of Wicklow were fully informed in any reduction of services.”

“This means that the Government and the HSE operates a two tier ambulance service. A 7 day a week service for North and East and a 6.5 day service for South and West Wicklow. The tragic events in Arklow prove why this is unjustifiable and I am calling on Minister Harris to investigate as to why this has occurred and to restore our ambulance services in all parts of Wicklow to 24/7.”

“For example West Wicklow which is covered by Naas, Tallaght and Baltinglass for 6 ½ days is only covered by Naas on a Monday from 8am to 8pm. Closing Tallaght and Baltinglass on the same day puts an unacceptable pressure on response times and puts people’s lives in danger. The HSE must address this deeply flawed rostering system immediately and I want Minister Harris to instruct the HSE to explain how this was allowed to happen.

“Wicklow’s ambulance service is a critical and trusted part of our health system. The revelations this week do not serve to build confidence in the response times that the people of Wicklow are entitled to expect.”


Arklow Psychological Waiting Times Unacceptable, 25/11/2016


Arklow psychological waiting times are unacceptable – Pat Casey TD

Wicklow Fianna Fáil TD Pat Casey has responded strongly to questions he has asked about psychological services in Arklow. “The parliamentary question which was answered by the HSE today confirmed my suspicions that mental health services in Arklow are at an unacceptable level. There is a waiting list of 21 seeking such services in Arklow and currently they will have to wait 11 months to access vital treatment.”

“This is hard evidence that mental health services are not being treated with the priority that they deserve by the Government. People who are already in a very vulnerable position but have bravely and correctly sought professional help are now being told that they will have to wait nearly a year for treatment. This is disgraceful and must be responded to by the Minister immediately.”

The Arklow based Deputy says his party is pushing for a significant increase in funding and spending for mental health services. Deputy Casey made the comments after securing a Dáil debate on the future of mental health services. The debate took place this week and calls on the government to review its spending allocation for mental health services.

“The Confidence and Supply Arrangement between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael commits to the full implementation of the ‘A Vision for Change’ policy, and this remains a key priority for us. There has been significant under investment in mental health services in recent years and this practice must change,” said Deputy Casey.

“The July 2016 estimate from the Department of Health outlines that the required resources to fully implement ‘A Vision for Change’ is €177.3m, or €35.4m over five years. The funding committed by the Government for 2017 is just €15m, so a significant increase in mental health spending is needed.

“Fianna Fáil is calling on the Government to set out how exactly it intends on achieving full implementation of the country’s mental health strategy. We have made it clear that mental health spending can’t be put on the backburner, so it’s time for Fine Gael and their Independent colleagues to spell out their plan for mental health services.

“One key measure which we want to see is the introduction of a multi-annual plan for the development of mental health services. Currently the Government allocates funding to mental health on a year to year basis. This is preventing long term planning and development from taking place. Instead there should be a multi-annual plan so that our mental health services can be developed with certainty,” concluded Deputy Casey.


Scandalous Waiting Times for Orthodontic Treatment , 04/11/2016


Scandalous waiting times for orthodontic treatment in Loughlinstown – Casey

 Wicklow Fianna Fáil TD Pat Casey has revealed scandalous waiting times of up to 4 years for orthodontic treatment in Loughlinstown Hospital.

“Wicklow patients had come to me with serious concerns in the delay in getting priority and specialist orthodontic treatment in Loughlinstown. Following parliamentary questions to the HSE, I was shocked to see that the waiting time for a simple referral is 2-3 months, and that those ‘with greatest clinical need will typically wait 3 years and those with routine clinical need 4 years’.

This is an entirely unacceptable level of service and it was also confirmed to me that staffing levels for the unit have gone down from 5.4 in 2012 to 4.46 as of July this year. This does not include staff absences due to statutory leave such as maternity and paternity leave which probably makes the staffing rate even worse. When you consider that there were higher staffing levels in this unit at the height of the recession, the requirement for immediate action by the Minister for Health is unquestionable.”

“Orthodontic treatments are very serious for the patients that have come to my office looking for answers. The level of services currently being offered by Loughlinstown are entirely inadequate and need to be addressed immediately. I have written to Minister Harris today to inform him of this and I will be asking further questions of the Health Services Executive to ensure that action is carried out along the lines of an emergency increase in specialist Orthodontists to reduce these waiting times.”


Home Help Hours Need to be Increased, 26/08/2016


Home Help hours need to be increased across the board – Pat Casey TD

 

Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow Pat Casey is urging the government to increase the hours of Home Help Service which is provided to older and vulnerable people nationwide.

Deputy Casey commented, “In Wicklow over the next 30 years, the number of people aged over 65 will double and the number aged over 85 will almost quadruple. We are living longer than our ancestors could ever have envisioned, but inevitably as we grow old we will all experience ailments and disabilities which are part and parcel of ageing. Budget 2017 must take this reality into account.

“Age Action has recently highlighted the crisis in community care and their latest report detailed that as many as half of their clients in nursing homes, or on the waiting list for nursing homes, could be at home if the proper supports were provided.

“It was also pointed out that each Community Health Organisation, responsible for providing home care services, has its own system. Therefore, someone might be getting the home help they need in one area but not be eligible for support on the other side of a HSE boundary. This lack of consistency in adjudicating the criteria for Home Help only adds to the stress experienced by the elderly. The provision of Home Help services is imperative for families who are under strain from helping to look after a loved one who may need additional care.

Deputy Casey continued "Fianna Fáil has proposed to offer people a home care package as an alternative to long-term residential care. This will apply in circumstances where the provision of a home care package is less costly to the State compared to long term residential care. This necessary measure not only benefits the individual concerned and their families, but also the State due to less demands being placed on long-term residential care services.

“Our health service is already under a huge amount of strain and failing to proactively plan for our ageing population now will lead to a crisis of epic proportions further down the line. Through Home Help we can empower older people to live a full and dignified life in the comfort of their own home.”


Concerns in relation to services at Tinahely Health Centre, 19/08/2016


Concerns in relation to services at Tinahely Health Centre – Pat Casey T.D.

Wicklow Fianna Fáil TD Pat Casey has raised concerns about the future of vital services currently being offered by the public health centre in Tinahely.

“A number of constituents have contacted me in relation to concerns about the future of important health services that are currently being offered in Tinahely health centre. These services range from baby clinics, chiropody services, language therapy, physiotherapy, the public nurse clinic and a mental health group. The clients attending these services come from Tinahely village and surrounding rural areas and constitute a large number of clients and potential clients.”

“The constituents are concerned that these services may be transferred elsewhere which would result in clients having to drive up to 20km to get these services. I have asked a parliamentary question on this matter to my colleague the Minister for Health Simon Harris TD.

“What concerns me here is that health services are hard enough to access without them being centralised even further. In relation to mental health services this can cause unnecessary and unhelpful stress and strain on people who could really do without it. As a TD who campaigned for increasing the availability of these services throughout rural Wicklow I will be seeking that these concerns be addressed as a matter of urgency.”


Fianna Fail secured Restoration of National Treatment Purchase, 12/08/2016


Restoration of National Treatment Purchase Fund secured under FF deal – Pat Casey TD

- Wicklow patients set to benefit from reduced waiting times -

Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow Pat Casey says the Health Minister’s decision to restore the National Treatment Purchase Fund is as a direct result of the negotiations between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael ahead of the formation of the minority Government.

Investment in the National Treatment Purchase Fund was a key priority detailed in the Fianna Fáil election manifesto, and was one of the core commitments discussed during the Trinity negotiations.

Speaking on the Government’s decision Deputy Casey said, “One of Fianna Fáil’s core priorities during the General Election was to restore the NTPF. We secured a commitment to restore the NTPF from Fine Gael during the negotiations in Trinity. I am pleased that Minister Harris has followed through on this promise with an investment of €50m in the Fund and his admition that it was a mistake by Fine Gael to scrap the NTPF.”

“Waiting lists are the highest on record, with some patients forced to wait years for what should be routine procedures. There are now over 13,000 people waiting more than 18 months for an outpatient appointment at a Dublin hospital while almost 3,000 children wait over a year and a half. This is wholly unacceptable.”

“Fianna Fáil has long argued for the restoration of the NTPF as a measure to reduce waiting lists and waiting times by referring public patients for treatment in private or public hospitals here, in Northern Ireland or abroad.

“We insisted that the restoration be included in the Confidence and Supply arrangement to facilitate a minority Government and It is crucial that we now see prompt results through the scheme for patients who are waiting on operations and treatments”, concluded Deputy Casey.