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It’s been a fraught four weeks since Saint Joseph’s Shankill first put out an S.O.S. to save their specialist dementia care facility.
On the plus side, the response from the public and those in power was pretty immediate, with outrage from the former and promises from the second.
One such promise came from Simon Harris TD, who vowed in a Dáil speech the following day that the doors at St Joseph’s “are not going to close”.
Which, along with a petition containing over 10,000 signatures being handed in at the Dáil on November 13th, certainly gave reason for those in St Joseph’s to be optimistic. Verging on cheerful.
And rightly so, with management recently informing its 100 staff and families of people who rely on the facility that, after productive negotiations with the HSE, St Joseph’s daycare services had secured funding into 2020.
When it came to the money needed to sustain its 60 residential places, negotiations with the National Treatment Purchase Fund have so far failed to reach any such happy ending. Hence the decision to accept no more admissions.
Chief Executive of St Joseph’s, Emma Balmaine, has expressed her disappointment today, stating, “Talks had been progressing well up until the end of last week. The HSE had come to the table, they understood our issues, and we have an agreed way forward for continuing to fund daycare into 2020.
“Unfortunately, the talks with the NTPF are not progressing in the same vein. We will, of course, continue to engage, but the gap between what’s on offer and what is needed to sustain this high-dependency service into the future is still far too wide.
“We will do everything possible to save St Joseph’s. However, time is running out in respect to securing the necessary budget for 2020, and our board is firmly of the view that there is no basis, as of now, to enable us to accept any new admissions at this time.”
Management went on to say that Minister Simon Harris would be held to account in respect of what he has committed to previously, and should honour his pledge to keep St Joseph’s open.
The Guide got in touch with Simon Harris’ office today, and they sent us the following statement.
“Minister Harris welcomes the progress made with the HSE. He encourages both the NTPF and St Joseph’s to continue its discussions to find a solution.
“Minister Harris is legally prohibited from intervening in those negotiations but his position remains unchanged. He wants to see this vital facility remain open.”