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TDs from Dublin and Louth told the Taoiseach of the funding crisis this week. Shutterstock
care providers

Future of St John of God care facilities in limbo as charity faces ongoing financial crisis

The charity is currently in discussions with the HSE to transfer its facilities to the control of the state’s healthcare provider.


THE FUTURE OF St John of God care facilities are in limbo as the service is struggling against an extreme funding crisis which could see its existing services be handed over the the HSE.

The care service operators, with locations nationwide, is understood to still be facing a €32 million deficit which was set to be aided through funding that was never allocated in Budget 2024.

TDs from Dublin and Louth have since flagged this funding shortcoming to the Taoiseach, as the company is currently in ongoing discussions with the HSE, debating if the national health service should take over the facilities.

St John Of God Community Services, that provides care to those with mental health and intellectual disabilities, previously planned to transfer its facilities to the HSE in October 2020, as it faced a similar funding crisis.

However, plans were paused in August 2021 following a decision by the charity’s board.

The results of a sustainability and impact assessment into the charity were published in October 2023, however the report has not been made publicly available.

In a statement this evening, the HSE said it has worked with the charity “over the last number of years”, addressing its historic debt issue.

“Throughout that time the HSE has continued to provide the necessary resources to ensure continuity of service and it is expected that the services provided will breakeven once again in 2023,” a spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added that discussions between the charity and the state healthcare service are “at an advanced stage”, where the final step will be delivering the commitments in the sustainability and impact report.

Since then, the charity’s financials have seemingly deteriorated. A letter to the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly from the organisation in 2021 said the charity faced a deficit of €32 million.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett told the Dáil on Tuesday that the deficit has yet to be addressed by the Government or the HSE.

“We need to understand that there are 8,000 children in their services,” Boyd Barrett said.

“In my area, the organisation provides respite services, special schools, disability services, child and adolescent mental health services, and so on.

“There was a memorandum of understanding to deal with the funding problems.  The money was supposed to have been allocated in the budget, was not allocated, and now we are facing an impending crisis whereby those services could cease in a very short while,” he added.

A meeting, which took place between the board this afternoon, where it is understood no update was made as a result of it.

In a statement, the charity said: “St John of God Community Services is in ongoing dialogue with the HSE in an effort to secure the long term future of the Service, arising from the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the HSE last autumn, upon the conclusion of an extensive two year Sustainability Impact Assessment process.”

St John of God said it would be “inappropriate” for them to provide any further comment “until such time as the current talks have reached a conclusion”.

Sinn Féin TD Ruiarí Ó Murchú also highlighted the financial crisis the charity is facing to the Taoiseach this week.

Ó Murchú said: “It provides servies [sic.] to around 400 people and in some cases, such as in the likes of Drumcar, we are talking about citizens who have the highest of needs.”

The Louth TD said the organisation claims it has insufficient funding to be able to deliver the “absolutely necessary services”. 

It is talking about starting the process of handing responsibility back to the HSE on Thursday. That cannot possibly happen.”

“I have asked Mr. Bernard O’Regan, head of disability services in the HSE, about it. 

“I understand that there are engagement is ongoing, but we really need to bring it to a conclusion,” he added.

The HSE spokesperson said this evening that it “recognises the critical need and importance of disability supports” for people and their families within St John of Gods.

They added: “Therefore, it is our priority to ensure these vital supports and services will continue to be provided without disruption as well as to seek to provide to all those who need a service to maximise the use of available resources.”

Ó Murchú said the situation is “not fair on the citizens who need these services, and it is not fair on their families”.

“We cannot be caught in this round and round the garden-type scenario, where organisations constantly need to threaten to get the necessary services for some of our neediest citizens,” he added.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said while he had been previously made aware of the issue, he was going to see an update from health minister Stephen Donnelly on the matter. 

“I am sure these things will be resolved by negotiation – they always are – but I will seek an update from the Minister on today, given the Deputies have raised it,” he said on Tuesday.

Additional reporting by Órla Ryan

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