It has come to my attention in recent weeks and months that the situation with the award of home care packages has become critical. Public Health Nurses are reporting that it is becoming harder and harder for eligible people to have home care packages awarded to them. A example of what I am saying is that I am told that there are now a total of two packages being awarded in County Galway per month, which is quite unbelievable when you realise that there are 80 people on the waiting list for home care packages in the Tuam area alone! That gives an indication of the demand for this service. The same situation exists in County Roscommon.
Public Health Nurses are growing more frustrated with every passing week as more and more people are turned down. Home care packages help to keep people in their own homes, and the situation as it is now means that there are people who cannot be discharged from hospitals because they cannot get a home care package. Apart from the fact that people want to be in their own homes, it would save the taxpayer a fortune to be able to discharge these patients from our hospitals and it would free up badly needed hospital beds.
I am calling on Minister Harris to address this situation immediately. The Minister has been on the airwaves plenty of times in the past week making statements about hospital waiting lists. He must deal with this issue as a matter of the utmost urgency and I am calling on him to make a statement on the matter and I will be pursuing this until an acceptable solution is found.