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Dublin: -2 °C Thursday 27 November, 2014

Cuts to personal assistant services will NOT take place

The Minister for Health has instructed the HSE to ‘continue to provide services to people in receipt of personal assistant services’ but protesters outside government buildings could continue through the night.

Protesters outside Government Buildings today.
Protesters outside Government Buildings today.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Updated 10pm

PROPOSED CUTS TO the hours of personal assistants will not go ahead, a statement from the Department of Health has confirmed tonight.

The Minister for Health, James Reilly, has instructed the Health Service Executive “to continue to provide services to people in receipt of personal assistant services in accordance with their needs.”

It follows protests by people with disabilities outside government buildings today with members of the newly-formed Leaders Alliance group saying they intended to stay there overnight in protest at the cuts announced by the HSE last week.

Responding to this evening’s announcement, a spokesperson for Leaders Alliance said their protest could continue through the night.

The statement from the Department of Health says:

While savings have to be achieved out of the total disability budget of €1.4b per annum, the Minister has told the HSE to distribute adjustments across the sector with a focus on cutting administration, training and travel costs, and better cash management by agencies involved. The Minister has requested that the HSE work with agencies to minimise the impact on services within the disability sector.

The current practice of assessing “each case according to their individual needs” is set to now continue, the Department said.

The statements ends by saying:

The Minister will receive regular reports from the HSE on the measures and will keep regularly reviewing the application of these measures to ensure that they are being applied as fairly and sympathetically as possible.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, the spokesperson for Leaders Alliance, John Roche, welcomed the news, while still believing that more needs to be done:

We have to reiterate that this is for existing services. There are people who are still on waiting lists.

Despite the u-turn, Roche remains angry at the proposal and said tonight that he could not rule the protest continuing through the night as originally planned.

He said he would wait to hear from a delegation who met with health officials this evening before making a decision.

“When the delegation came out they said this is the start of the process, we need to get it to the end of the process,” he said.

Roche added that the government have “pushed all our buttons now” and that the newly formed group “represents all the people who require these services,” including those who couldn’t protest.

“Given the nature of home help, they couldn’t join us today,” he added.

Read: People with disabilities holding overnight protest against HSE cuts >

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