FUNDING CRISIS: Dermot and Rita Moriarty with Rita’s sister Roseanne O’Connor from Tiernaboul with Marie Lenihan (KPF) and Denis Kerins from Gneeveguilla. Photo: Grigoriy Geniyevskiy
By Sean Moriarty
A Kerry service which provides immeasurable support to its clients and their families faces a devastating €60,000 budget cut this year.
Kerry Parents and Friends Association (KPFA), who care for 270 special needs patients across Kerry – 115 of them based in the greater Killarney area – say they will have no choice but to cut back on services after the HSE made the announcement this week.
Some difficult decisions will now have to be made by the service as they face cutting either wages of two staff members, hiring two mini buses, or 50 respite bed nights this year.
KPFA were told earlier this week by the HSE that the funding cutback was part of a national cost cutting exercise.
Between 2000 and 2013, the Kerry service suffered a range of funding cutbacks, so much so that its regulator informed them in 2014 that it would have to recruit more staff to meet the standards expected.
This was followed by a few difficult years where KPFA operated at a loss, but looked like they were about to turn the corner this year – until the HSE dealt the funding blow earlier this week.
“Just as we felt we were finally getting back on our feet we lose another €60,000,” KPFA Chief Executive, Marie Lenihan, told the Killarney Advertiser.
“We will have no choice but to cut back on services. We are very sad and upset to have to do this. There were rumours about cutbacks but we really hoped it would not come to our door. The Government is at fault, they signed off the HSE budgets, and with politicians knocking at our doors these days, I would ask what are you going to do to meet the needs of people with disabilities nationwide.”
In a statement this week the HSE said that; ‘All health services are this year working on making savings, and have targets for these savings. Cork Kerry Community Healthcare has sought to discuss with KPFA how it can make savings without impacting services. Unfortunately this discussion has yet to take place, but we remain available to discuss this with KPFA. We have made it very clear that these savings must not impact on the people using KPFA’s services’.