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21 Jan 2022

Planned takeover of St John of God Community Services by HSE cancelled at last minute

The move has been welcomed by Sinn Féin TD for Louth, Ruairí Ó Murchú

St John of Gods

The main house at St John of God

St John of God Community Services in the North East are set to continue as HSE takeover planned for September is put on hold.

The takeover, originally planned to take place on September 30th, has been put on hold due an agreement reached between the HSE and St John of God (SJOG) to continue providing services.

In a letter sent by SJOG Chief Executive, Clare Dempsey, to families of those who use the service, seen by the Democrat, detail the decision to defer the Notice of Termination of the Service Arrangement with the HSE.

“I am happy to confirm therefore, that the plan for the transfer of services to the HSE by 30th September 2021 is on hold for the present time,” said Ms Dempsey in the letter.

“The Notice of Termination is deferred to enable our participation with the HSE in the completion of the Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIA) process requested by the Department of Health.”

Ms Dempsey says that this will help SJOG establish new funding arrangements for the service, to allow them to continue to develop and provide their services to those in their care.

“It is envisaged that, through this process, funding arrangements will be established to

enable us to continue to provide and further develop our services to meet the needs of children, adolescents and adults in accordance with national policy.”

According to Ms Dempsey, this process will be ongoing until December 2022.

With the SIA plan, there will be efforts to address SJOG’s deficit, with Ms Dempsey saying that the HSE will provide “adequate funding” during the SIA process.

“The HSE has also committed to the provision of adequate funding to operate our services during the period of the SIA.”

The move has been welcomed by local Dundalk TD, Ruairí Ó Murchú, who said that it was a “huge relief” to staff and families.

“This is good news for those who provide the service and those who use it. There was a lot of concern about the situation, particularly among families whose loved ones benefit from the services,” said Deputy Ó Murchú.

“It is clear from what has happened in this situation that there is an issue with the funding of these kind of services and the current model was not fit for purpose.

“The transition of people from congregated settings to community-based services is more costly, but far more beneficial for those involved and the HSE and the government have to recognise that additional funding, and better mechanisms to access it, must be made available.”

Ms Dempsey added in the letter that she understood it was a difficult time for those accessing SJOG services and their families.

“I fully appreciate that the past 10 months has been an anxious time for you and your family as a result of the uncertainty posed by the serving of the Notice of Termination and the associated transfer of services to the HSE,” said Ms Dempsey.

“I thank you for your patience, support and understanding through this time of uncertainty.”

According to Ms Dempsey, these developments are a step to making SJOG a more sustainable organisation, and that they will embrace that opportunity.

“These developments represent a significant step towards placing the Service on a truly sustainable footing, and to that end, we will fully embrace the opportunity as presented,” said Ms Dempsey.

“While we potentially stand on the cusp of a new beginning for Saint John of God Community Services, a great deal of work has yet to be done on both sides in order for us to achieve that desired outcome.”

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