HSE again under fire for closing Clonmel-based residential acquired brain injury unit - the only one in the south east

The HSE has been accused of showing outrageous contempt for staff and service users after announcing the closure in Clonmel of a residential and day service unit for people with acquired brain injury.

The HSE has been accused of showing outrageous contempt for staff and service users after announcing the closure in Clonmel of a residential and day service unit for people with acquired brain injury.

For the second time in as many weeks the HSE has been condemned for their lack of consultation with staff concerning unit closures.

Last week they were branded as ‘bully boys’ in relation to their handling of the transfer of a unit from St. Patricks’s Hospital to Our Lady’s Hospital in Cashel and now similar complaints have emerged as a result of an announcement made without consultation with staff at Sli Eile, a living unit for people with acquired brain injury.

The HSE said services for people with an Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) were to be reorganised in partnership with ABI Ireland.

The unit opened fourteen years ago in Toberaheena, Clonmel and is now set to close with staff set to move to take over the role of agency support staff in Damien House, Clonmel and the service users at Sli Eile are to be catered for by voluntary staff of the ABII (Acquired Brain Injury Ireland)

The Sli Eile unit, the only one of its kind in the south east, has a staff of ten, a manager and nine social care staff who TDs said this week were shocked by the total disregard shown for them and the three service users which it caters for.

Two opposition TDs Deputies Seamus Healy and Mattie McGrath have attacked the HSE again over their dealing with staff and service users. In the Dail Deputy Seamus Healy challenged Minister James Reilly on what he described as an HSE policy of contempt for staff.

“At 10 minutes notice, staff providing residential and day service for persons with Acquired Brain Injury were told that the service was being closed.

There was absolutely no consultation with staff or service users and the HSE action shows outrageous contempt for both staff and service users.

There had been no contact with staff since and indeed service users have still not been advised of the closure.

The decision to close the service was taken by senior Southern Regional staff without any reference to local staff, service users or stakeholders.

The conduct of the HSE Senior Management is completely unacceptable”, said Deputy Healy.

Deputy Healy said the HSE had a deliberate policy of excluding staff, service users and stakeholders from all decisions affecting them and this had to stop.

“The conduct of the HSE in South Tipperary over the past week has been absolutely appalling. It shows absolute contempt for all stakeholders, including staff, and that must stop.” Deputy Healy told Minister Reilly when calling for legislation to be introduced to stop the HSE from behaving in such a fashion.

Deputy Mattie McGrath said senior management within the HSE Disability Services visited Sli Eile and announced that the Transitional Living Unit was to be closed as part of the service plan for the South East and staff are to be redeployed to Damien House. The staff have had no further communication to date from the HSE with regards to when their positions in Sli Eile will terminate.

“This is more of the bully boy tactics from the HSE. Senior management informed staff that the ABI services are to close just hours before the plans were announced as part of the Service Plan for the South East Region and despite promises that management would be engaging with staff regarding the impact of the decision, staff have received no further communication from management.” said Deputy McGrath

“How many more services are being closed without consultation and consideration? This is just another heartless attack on the most needy in our society.” said Deputy McGrath

“The Staff were basically told this service is closing, just move on. What about the service users and where are these services going to be transferred to? The HSE cannot continue with these slash and burn tactics without accountability. They are answerable to no-one and their lack of accountability is getting worse rather than better under this administration.” he said.

In a statement the HSE said that the HSE South and the voluntary sector, in particular, the specialist organisation, Acquired Brain Injury Ireland (ABII) (formerly known as Peter Bradley Services) will work in partnership to ensure an ongoing and responsive service for people with an acquired brain injury.

“Enhanced community services at a local level have resulted in low occupancy levels in Sli Eile; there is an average occupancy level of 50% (1–2 clients) on an ongoing basis with an average placement lasting from 2-6 weeks (Monday to Friday)” ,said the HSE.

The HSE said it had engaged positively with ABII about working in partnership to provide a new community rehabilitation model of service that will provide early intervention, rehabilitation and support for people with an acquired brain injury (ABI). This model of service is currently utilised by Acquired Brain Injury Ireland and features clients being involved in how the services are run and delivered. In addition, a Rehabilitation Assistant service will provide rehabilitation/support to clients with an ABI in their own home and community. The focus will continue to be on the acquisition of skills to help make new adjustments for clients in order to promote independence and maximise ability, while working in partnership with Acquired Brain Injury Ireland (ABII), families and health professionals.

HSE management officially communicated with staff members about the proposed new model of service as part of the Regional Service Plan briefings on 28th February 2013. Staff were advised that a consultation and engagement process about the reorganisation of services would be undertaken with unions and staff representatives and any concerns or queries could be raised as part of that process or with their line managers. A number of individual queries have already been dealt with as they have arisen. Discussions had taken place with staff previously around the difficulties in maintaining occupancy levels and the possibility of redeployment to Damien House Services in Clonmel.

The reorganisation of services with ABII and the cessation of the current service will allow staff from Sli Eile to be redeployed to replace the current over reliance on agency staff at Damien House services in Clonmel. Damien House provides day and high support 24/7 residential services to adults with moderate or severe intellectual disabilities. This staff redeployment will ensure an enhanced service is provided to clients in Damien House by ensuring continuity and consistency of staff for the people availing of services in Damien House.