Health Local Issues Social Issues

“Cost over-run on Children’s Hospital could have paid for entire National Cancer Strategy,”


Independent TD and General Election candidate Mattie McGrath has said that the scale of the financial waste associated with the National Children’s Hospital can be effectively measured by comparing it with the total cost of implementing the National Cancer Strategy. Deputy McGrath was speaking this morning to mark World Cancer Day which aims to highlight the need to put renewed emphasis on cancer prevention, diagnostic and treatment services:

“Information provided by the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, has shown that the cost of implementing the National Cancer Strategy will require in the region of €840 million up to 2026.

Yet the cost over-run of the National Children’s Hospital will likely be double that before it is completed.

This demonstrates the catastrophic impact that the National Children’s Hospital fiasco is going to have on the delivery of vital health services like cancer prevention and treatment.

It also totally undermines the claims that are being made by the Minister and the government that they can be trusted to deliver the roll-out of a world class health service for all of our people.

Instead what we have seen is €840 million-the total spend required for the National Cancer Strategy-shoved into the hands of multi-national contractors assigned to the Children’s Hospital when that money could have been used to speed up the delivery of the Cancer Strategy.

On World Cancer Day this Minister for Health should hang his head in shame for the waste that he and his government colleagues have presided over,” concluded Deputy Mattie McGrath.


Health Local Issues Social Issues

“Vital that Jigsaw mental health service develop and town and village hubs,” Mattie McGrath

Press Release


Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said that while he welcomes the government commitment to open a new Jigsaw mental health service in Thurles, it is absolutely vital that outreach hubs are developed on a parallel basis throughout the county. Deputy McGrath was speaking after the Minister of State for Mental Health, Jim Daly, confirmed that the long awaited Jigsaw service will be based in Thurles after years of questions around where it would be situated:

“There are very many people who have worked tirelessly and collaboratively over the last seven years to ensure that a service like Jigsaw would be developed within the county.

This is a very special and positive outcome for them. I myself have worked since at least 2013 to progress this matter forward.

I do want to acknowledge the concerns that are emerging however in terms of the accessibility of the service for the broader county given its location in Thurles which is not well served by public transport networks.

We know that Jigsaw caters specifically for young people between the ages of 12 and 25 who are experiencing difficulties with mental health.

These are the groups who are being particularly affected by the scourge of rampant drug use in the county, so it is vital they have accessible services.

At present we have wonderful groups like C-Saw, Taxi Watch and the River Suir Suicide Watch but we need dedicated resources specifically aimed at addressing mental health in a preventative manner.

This is why I hope that the Jigsaw service can be expanded throughout our towns and villages where there is such an obvious and desperate need,” concluded Deputy McGrath.



Health Local Issues Social Issues

“Minister is presiding over an utter paralysis in tackling hospital trolley counts,” Mattie McGrath

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has described the latest statistics on the number of patients waiting on hospital trolleys as a national scandal for which no one is being held to account. Deputy McGrath was speaking after the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), confirmed there has been an enormous 173% increase in the number of patients on trolleys for this July compared with the same point in July 2006. The statistics also reveal that the number of patients waiting on trolleys at South Tipp General this July was 509 – a 54% increase from the same point last year:

“The facts could not be clearer; we have a Minister for Health and a health service executive who are driving the hospital system over a cliff through reckless mismanagement.

How else are we describe the fact that approximately 9,500 patients were left waiting on hospital trolleys during the month of July?

Where on earth is the more than €17 billion we are pumping into the system going?

It is absolutely extraordinary to think that South Tipperary General, despite the heroic efforts of the staff has been unable to de-escalate from the HSE’s Full Capacity Protocol since January 2016.

Previous to this point, I was informed by the Hospital Manager that in the years prior to 2015 STGH had an escalation plan that did not include the Full Capacity Protocol but rather a tiered response to the activity within the Emergency Department.

But what this shows is that neither the previous policy or the newly developed Full Capacity Protocol has come anywhere near addressing the crisis situations.

We seem to be simply changing the titles of the Emergency Department Directives with absolutely zero change in outcomes for patients.

What is also distressing is the fact that the proposed Modular Unit will at best be a sticking plaster solution when full surgery is required,” concluded Deputy McGrath.


Health Local Issues Social Issues

“National Children’s Hospital costs now threaten entire health service,” Mattie McGrath

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has described the latest assessment on the impact of the out of control spending costs associated with the National Children’s Hospital as a damning indictment of the government’s unwillingness to confront the scale of the financial fiasco. Deputy McGrath was speaking after the interim Head of the HSE, Ann O’Connor, told the Oireachtas Health Committee that funding arrangements for new hospitals and nursing homes, as well as ambulances and equipment, under the Ireland 2040 capital development plan will now be all but “impossible” to deliver:


“This has very clearly moved the impact of the National Children’s Hospital back to centre stage in terms of the enormous damage it is doing to the entire health budget for the next number of decades.


The government is simply not telling people the full truth when it comes to the damage that its mismanagement of this project is bringing about.


We have the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Health covering their political backs by saying no projects will be affected, and yet we now have black and white confirmation from the interim Head of the HSE that whole swathes of health infrastructure are in jeopardy.


We need an urgent reassessment of the viability of this project in light of the damning evidence provided by the HSE today.


The government, and in particular, Minister Simon Harris, cannot just sit back and let this health disaster unfold around us. They must take responsibility for this catastrophe and change course immediately before the health service is brought to its knees trying to keep up with the spiralling costs,” concluded Deputy McGrath.



Community Health Local Issues

“Progress on Fair Deal reforms a positive and welcome step forward,” Mattie McGrath

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said he welcomes news that reforms to the Fair Deal nursing home support scheme will finally come before Cabinet on Tuesday. Deputy McGrath was speaking after reports also emerged that aspects of the reform proposals will include retrospective measures that will have a direct financial impact on struggling families:


“I and my colleagues in the Rural Independent Group have been calling for these reforms to be introduced since we secured unanimous Dáil support of our Motion on this matter in 2017.


After significant delays and fears that the reforms would never see the light of day, I want to welcome this news as a positive indication that we are finally moving forward.


What the government and the Minister for Older People must now do, is immediately prioritise the ensuing legislation that will be needed to give effect to the reforms.


On that he can be assured that once the detail is acceptable, we will support him.


I think the news on the retrospective element is to be especially welcomed. From what I have seen it now appears that if a resident has been living in a nursing home for one year, their family will only have to pay the 7.5pc for another two years. Or if a resident is in a nursing home for more than three years, those 7.5pc payments will cease immediately.


I do have remaining concerns around the broader issue of massive discrepancies in fees as they relate to HSE and Private Nursing Homes. That is also a matter is not going anywhere and which we need urgent and immediate action on,” concluded Deputy McGrath.




Community Health Local Issues Social Issues

“Proposed reduction in Home Help hours almost beyond comprehension,” Mattie McGrath

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said that that confirmation by the HSE that it has an insufficient budget to deliver an overall increase in the number of home help hours for 2019 will have significant impact on thousands of vulnerable families. Deputy McGrath was speaking after the HSE said it has no other choice but to further limit the service following a nationally negotiated contract which will see health care support assistants (formerly known as home helps), paid for the time it takes them to travel to people’s homes:


“This move by the HSE is almost unbelievable in terms of the hurt it is going to cause families and those in dire need of home help care.


As I understand it, what the HSE have effectively said is that the entire home help scheme is now closed to new applicants until November. This is despite the fact that there are currently over 6000 people on the waiting list for the service.


Not only is it a cruel move, it also contradicts this government’s policy of ensuring that people are kept in the care of their loved ones for as long as possible.


The Minister says that the move is also down to the fact that there has been a significant increase in demand for the services. That is true. But what is also true is that government have known for at least the last eight years that we were moving toward an increasing population of older persons with clear home help needs.


I also find it somewhat alarming that the Minister for State, Jim Daly, has also indicated that the Home Help Scheme is set to move toward the inclusion of some form of co-payment.


This will need to be urgently clarified to ensure that further delays in accessing the services do not become even more problematic that they are at present.


The Minister says the co-payment model for Home Help will be based on something like the Fair Deal Scheme.


However even this government have accepted that the Fair Deal Scheme has been discriminatory and punitive for some sections of the population. We cannot have that approach replicated in the Home Help Scheme,” concluded Deputy McGrath.



Community Health Local Issues Press Releases

“HSE to blame as National Ambulance strike was completely avoidable,” Mattie

“HSE to blame as National Ambulance service was completely avoidable,” Mattie McGrath




Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, and the HSE, to immediately intervene in order to avoid any further nationwide strike action being taken by the National Ambulance Service Representative Association (Nasra). Deputy McGrath was speaking after Nasra members began a 24 Hour Nationwide stoppage following the continuing refusal of the HSE to grant them the right to have their preferred form of union representation recognised:


“As I understand it, Nasra have already conducted six protests since January as part of its campaign for official recognition by the HSE.


That was six occasions in which the Minister and the HSE could resolved this matter without the need to have ambulance personnel disrupt vital services as the only recourse open to them.


I also understand that the National Ambulance staff were asked to respond to over 34 thousand calls that were put through beyond their scheduled working time in 2018.


This demonstrates the enormous strain that the service is under.


What is even more concerning is the confirmation from the National Ambulance Service that it has been trial running the conversion of decommissioned vehicles with excessive mileage into vehicles that carry emergency equipment.


Surely this gives rise to serious questions about the actual capacity of the ambulance service to function in an effective manner.


The question must now be asked around how the HSE and indeed the Minister for Health have allowed the situation to deteriorate to this extent,” concluded Deputy McGrath.





Community Health Local Issues Social Issues

Rehab’s work is vital to families and communities-it must be protected,” Mattie McGrath

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, to listen to the pleas of the families and service users of Rehab who fear that a collapse of the organisations work may take place without additional funding. Deputy McGrath was speaking ahead of Rehab’s meetings with the Minister and Minister of State for Disability Issues, Finian McGrath, which is due to take place tomorrow:


“I have worked in close partnership with the excellent Rehab organisation in Bridgewater House here in Clonmel and Knocklofty and indeed all over the county for many years now.


The dedication and commitment of the staff and service users is second to none.


To think that all of that and indeed the work of Rehabs 147 services in 117 locations around the country will be threatened due to a funding gap of €2million is incomprehensible.


I have written to the Minister requesting that he engage in good faith with Rehab and listen to the concerns that clearly exist.


I accept that HIQA has found there needs to be improvements in the organisation national governance structure; but most of the current challenges arise from the escalating cost of providing the kind of care that Rehab engage in.


That is something which can be directly tackled by the Minister for Health.


It would be a significant and indefensible blow to families and communities if the work of Rehab was to cease at this point especially given the level of dependency that many families have on it for relief and assistance,” concluded Deputy McGrath.



Community Health Local Issues

“Clarity on Nursing Home fees welcome but too late for thousands,” Mattie McGrath

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has welcomed confirmation that greater transparency on how so called ‘Top-Up’ fees are calculated for Nursing Home residents is set to be introduced. Deputy McGrath was speaking as The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) prepares to launch its guidance on legally binding guidelines for contracts of care in nursing homes:


“This is a significant and welcome move that should provide families and residents with the kind of protections we have been calling for for some years now.


As far back as 2015 I was calling on then Health Minister, Leo Varadkar, to explain to South Tipperary participants why they were paying an average €26000 extra per year to access the Fair Deal Scheme when compared to participants in North Tipperary.


So this is not a new problem; where costs that cannot be considered proportionate are being imposed.


Families have continually come to me over the years annoyed at the way they feel that their loved ones were being exploited for services that should be considered routine care.


Thankfully, and even if it is almost five years later, this government and its regulatory authorities seems to be waking up to the scale of the problem.


That being said this new move by the CCPC will do nothing in terms of reimbursing families who may have lost thousands in hidden fees over the course of a family members stay in nursing home care.


Addressing that element of the proposals is something we still to work on,” concluded Deputy McGrath.



Health Local Issues Social Issues

“30,000 patients affected by Hospital Acquired Infections annually,” Mattie McGrath

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, to clarify what measures he is taking to address the most recent survey findings on the number of patients affected by Hospital Acquired Infections (HAI). Deputy McGrath was speaking after the HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) confirmed the accuracy of headline data published by European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). The ECDC data had estimated that on any day in 2018, there were 670 inpatients in Irish hospitals with a Hospital Acquired Infection, translating to almost 30,000 patients in Ireland affected by HAI annually:

These findings are extremely stark in terms of the implications for patients entering and residing in our hospital system.

The HSPC have found that by ownership, the HAI prevalence in public hospitals operated by the HSE was slightly higher than that of private hospitals (6.2% versus 5.8%).

What is also extremely worrying is the fact that while Ireland’s Hospital Acquired Infection rates prevalence equalled that of Northern Ireland (6.1%), it was higher than that of Scotland (4.5%) and participating EU countries overall (5.5%).

This one again points to the fact that we have a Minister, a Health Service Executive and a government that  are pumping billions of euros into a hospital system that is still struggling to effectively combat the acquired infection rate.

Will the Minister have to answer for this failure? Of course he will not and that is the appalling political reality we find ourselves in at the present time,” concluded Deputy McGrath.