A “Cull” or Privatisation of Care and Home Help by the HSE ? 2013


By Brian Mc Carthy


It’s my opinion…..

Last September 2012 watching Siptu (and Impact) V The HSE when The Labour Court issued a binding recommendation that 10,000 home-help workers employed by the HSE be issued with improved contractual conditions I like many Home Helps were left with more questions than answers that may be answered today the 13th of February 2013 and upon the scrutiny and examination of the new and improved contract.

The ruling emerged from a dispute between the HSE and unions Siptu and Impact.

Many home-help workers have up to now been on zero-hour contracts, which are formal agreements where the employee must be available for work but does not have specified hours and must be available for a certain number of hours per week.

Labour Court deputy chairman Caroline Jenkinson directed home-help employees be guaranteed at least seven hours work per week under a new annualised hour arrangement. This number is to rise “progressively” to 10.

“The number of hours to be allocated to each person will be based on 80 per cent of their actual hours worked in the six-month reference period between October 1st, 2011, and March 31st, 2012, with a minimum guarantee of seven hours,” said Ms Jenkinson in her judgment.

Those who do not wish to operate under the annualised hour’s scheme are entitled to compensation of between €2,000 and €3,000 which is again only applicable to few of many and timeframe of service not included as former contracts were also so weak.

Reading the evidence throughout this document, the HSE SERVICE PLANS, THE PUBLIC SERVICE AGREEMENT, and listening to James Reilly’s empty promises and UNFAIR DEAL, I personally believe this is a cull of Home Helps. When the time in Ireland has come to say “enough is enough” of the cruel austerity cuts that really affect the most vulnerable and the low earners like us Home Helps. No travel time, reductions in hours and proper time to really take care of your client, mileage cut after 4,000 costing you to go to work, and now what I believe to be an enforced redundancy scheme through poor reward for how hard we work.

I cannot trust SIPTU or their high earner and one of the old boys club Jack O Connor who has refused to take a pay cut and the country’s biggest trade union splashed out more than €398,000 on cars, resulting in a €1.5m collection of motors. Think of your wages and your car.

More than €100,000 in restaurant bills, etc between SIPTU officials & Govt officials puts the “social” in “social partnership and Christmas bonuses.

Condemning all parties who have subjected us to these cuts and who continue to party at our expense, Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour and expensive pensions to the taxpayers like Brian Cowan and Bertie Aherns €140,000+, Enda Kenny’s €200,000 salary plus expenses and Kenny will be entitled to an annual pension of at least €30,000 on top of the lump-sum payment – as well as his politician’s salary.

The Labour Party is supported financially by SIPTU, these funds are stopped out of your union subscriptions and are supporting a party who has long lost any respect for the working classes in Ireland. Political Exemption Fund Forms/Notice can be found online.

We had massive cuts in our hospitals, home helps, social welfare, transport, pensions, levies on wages, energy bills, universal social charges on wages, cut back in our schools, special need children, billions paid to unsecure bond holders, & savage attacks on workers in the work place both private & public services to name but a few.

The same Labour, FF & FG are in favour of the privatisation of all public services, we had the McCarty report endorsed by Labour Party, Board Gais, ESB, Water, CIE Group, Aer Lingus, Coillte Forestry, all to be sold off to the highest bidder, billionaire friends of the government.


“There will be a focused approach to the management of the staffing resource in order to deliver on the service objectives of this plan, while controlling payroll and related costs. The Public Service Agreement (PSA) will remain a key enabler to further reduce the cost of labour, deliver cost reductions and payroll savings and to manage the change agenda in 2013”

I demand that the Government and HSE immediately cease attacking the elderly, sick and disabled and restore all home help hours, home care packages cuts this year and since 2008, home helps back up resources, including over worked line managers-office staff-nurses and heads of department with an impossible job of enforcing the action and budgets subjected on them by a cruel and careless Government.

The Programme for Government 2011 stated that: ‘By the end of our term in Government Ireland will be recognised as a modern, fair, socially inclusive and equal society supported by a productive and prosperous economy’

Government’s stated policy for tackling poverty and social exclusion focuses on three interconnecting themes, income supports, activation, and access to services which includes home help.

Human rights and social inclusion should not become the collateral damage of this recession.

We cannot accept the reduction of the government deficit as a marker of success, when it is at the expense of a damaged social infrastructure, and the creation of further inequalities in society.

ALONE being the operative word and under pressure home helps are struggling to complete duties in the allocated time.

Home Help Cutbacks;

The HSE 2012 Service Plan promised 10.7 million home help hours, when in fact 9.9 million hours were provided. In 2008, the HSE provided 12.6 million home helps hours.

*By the end of 2012 1.1 Million Home Help Hours cut from the HSE budget hours which have not been reinstated.

* Same level of home helps and home care packages to be provided in 2013-2014. With likely increased demand, this is effectively a cutback.

; Few people realise how important home helps are to those who need them. In January Home Help hours were cut by 4.5%.Cuts to home care services represent a direct attack on old, young and disabled people in their own homes. These cuts fly in the face of long-standing policy and clear commitments in the Programme for Government to develop and invest in home and community care services.

In order to reach the end of 2013 ceiling target and to deliver on these critical service developments, it will be necessary to achieve a gross reduction of almost 4,000 WTEs or 4% of our workforce which equates to the loss of the equivalent of approximately 6.4 million working-hours on an annual basis. The HSE has appointed five new national directors and a Chief Financial Officer at salaries ranging from €158,000 to €173,000. 13-05-2013


Cutting home care services does not make human sense or economic sense. These cuts will inflict intolerable pain on distressed individuals and families and cost the State more in the long run.

The consequences of these cuts will be earlier admissions to nursing homes, longer stays in acute hospitals and anguish for families who need support to care at home for relatives suffering illness, frailty or disability.

Minister for Health James Reilly has consistently repeated his priority to empower older people to remain in their own homes for as long as possible, as they would wish. He stated that, “People should be allowed to stay at home for as long as possible, in their communities surrounded by their families.”

These cuts highlight again the need for a thought-through national strategy for caring for an ageing population, if the government is going to live up to its keynote promise to make Ireland the best place in the world in which to grow old.

The HSE Service Plan;

*By the end of 2014 nearly €4 Billion has been taken out of the Health Service Budget in the last 6 years despite the introduction in that time of multiple new taxes and hidden tax levy’s. The health executive pointed out in January 2013 that the health budget has now been cut by 22% since 2008.

Increases in client’s prescription costs and elimination of phone allowance €27.50 Dec 2012. Where is this money going?

* Health service set to lose 3,600-4,000 staff in 2014 retirements and a new voluntary redundancy scheme.. Service will have lost 15,000 staff since 2007.

* The HSE’s 2014 service plan says there are required savings targets of €619 million for the health service in 2014. However, in addition to this there are underlying 2013 deficits of €419 million which need to be addressed as well as addressing the €619 million target in 2014.

* A total of €268 million has been targeted in pay savings for 2014, including €140 million in Haddington Road Agreement savings and €108 million in ‘unspecified’ pay savings, which the HSE refused to elaborate on at the launch of the plan. In addition, there will be €20 million in staff savings under employment control measures.

I call on James Reilly to clarify his own position and involvement in private nursing homes and the private home care business interests of top health policy advisor, Maureen Windle. (The minister’s adviser is a former health board chief executive politically appointed, just seven years after she left the public sector on a golden handshake of €417,000 and an annual pension of €68,000.)

The campaign group demands that the Minister for Health reveal to the public the business relationship between Maureen Windle, top policy advisor in the Department for Health, and a major private home care company. A revelation in the Sunday Business Post that such a senior advisor in the Department for Health was once a director of Sodexo Zehnacker Healthcare Ireland is of grave concern. Sodexo is a huge global corporation which owns Comfort Keepers, a major company that has operated in the field of private home care service provision in Ireland since 2005. The HSE appears to be favouring Comfort Keepers over voluntary organisations in the awarding of contracts for the provision of home care packages”.

Dr.Sara Burke “Obviously, the Government learnt nothing from last year’s misguided cuts to disability services. It is continuing a policy of cuts by stealth (or what they think they can get away with) on some of the State’s most vulnerable citizens. Whether, the Government has targeted cuts on disability services on purpose or by blunder is not evident. Whatever the reason, it is inexcusable.

Brian McCarthy