Home > Dail Eireann debate. Topical issue - HSE Funding [Tiglin].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Topical issue - HSE Funding [Tiglin]. (26 Jan 2017)

External website: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/dail/2...

Deputy John Curran: I raise the issue of funding for Tiglin rehabilitation centre in Ashford, County Wicklow. I know that the Minister of State is aware of this matter and has had the opportunity to visit Tiglin in the past. Tiglin was established in about 2008 in a fairly remote part of County Wicklow. For anybody who has had the opportunity to visit the facility, there has been a transformation in the past seven, eight or nine years since its very humble and modest beginnings. The centre provides residential rehabilitation programmes for both males and females in addiction. Its programmes are very holistic and complete. It is not just about dealing with addiction but about trying to equip people to go back into normal life, giving them skills - whether that is in terms of doing courses in manual handling, HACCP, first aid or parenting - and eventually helping them with housing and so forth. It takes a very rounded and holistic approach. I had the opportunity at one point to sit in the Minister of State's seat. From the visits I paid to Tiglin, I was really impressed with the work done there.


Like many organisations dealing with residential rehabilitation, Tiglin is working on a shoestring budget. Funding is insecure from year to year and is in most cases dependent on voluntary contributions and local fundraising efforts. Residential rehabilitation does not come cheap. On the other hand, the outcomes are very good. The cost of having somebody continuing in addiction is much higher than treating a person who can live a life free from it. I do not want to get into the details now - as they can be discussed later - but the outcomes arrived at in respect of those who access Tiglin have been proven to be extremely good. I have met people from my area who have gone through the process, having been in residential care in Tiglin for a year, and who have moved on with their lives, do not use any substances and are free of addiction. They now lead different lifestyles.


I am raising this issue today because, for the past couple of years, Tiglin has received funding from different HSE regions. The problem is that the services it provides cannot be turned on and off. A few weeks ago, right at the end of last year, the centre received a letter from the HSE Dublin north - I think it is in CHO area 9 - effectively advising it that no funding would be forthcoming this year. In my view, that is a very unreasonable thing to do with no advance warning and no preparation time given. From the point of view of the rehabilitation service, it is not in a position to close its doors and tell people to go home as it has no place for them. That would be unthinkable.


The amount of funding involved in recent years was €50,000. The underlying concern is that, because of where Tiglin is located, it is not a locally-based resource. In other words, it does not just pick people from its own immediate catchment area. People from all over Dublin are using the service. When I made inquiries -the Minister of State is probably aware of this - I discovered that one quarter of the people who are in residential care in Tiglin are from the HSE Dublin north catchment area. It has chosen this year to withdraw its entire funding, which is only €50,000. That money would not cover 20% of the cost of dealing with the cohort from the area in question who are using the service. However, the loss of that €50,000 has put an unbearable strain on Tiglin. What is worse is that HSE Dublin north has suggested to the organisers, the CEO and those running Tiglin that they should apply to a different HSE region for funding. That is not compatible. There needs to be joined-up thinking. The organisation does not have the wherewithal or the capability to apply to various parts of the HSE in order to seek funding. It is looking for a joined-up response from the Minister of State and the HSE regarding the provision of funding. The latter should - at a minimum - be provided at the same level as has been the case up to now, particularly as the demand for the services offered at the centre is increasing rather than decreasing.


Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Catherine Byrne): I thank Deputy Curran for raising the issue of the provision of funding for Tiglin residential rehabilitation services. As the Deputy is acutely aware, problem drug use continues to be one of the most significant challenges facing our country and is becoming more complex, with a wider range of drug s issues and abuse. I would like to emphasise this Government’s commitment and ongoing support, in line with the national drugs strategy, for initiatives to tackle the drug problem. The overall objective of the strategy is to tackle the harm caused to individuals and society by the misuse of drug s. The strategy emphasises the need to provide opportunities for people to move on from illicit drug use to a drug -free life where that is achievable.


In the context of the Government’s commitment to addressing the drug s issue, an additional €3 million in funding has been allocated to the HSE this year for addiction services. The increased budget includes funding for a pilot supervised injection facility, more detox places and improved access to treatment services for under eighteens and others.


With regard to the specific issue raised by the Deputy, I am advised that the HSE provided over €390,000 in funding to Tiglin in 2016. An additional grant of €50,000 was also provided by the HSE last year in respect of the provision of residential drug treatment episodes. This funding was issued by the HSE on a once-off basis and Tiglin was informed that it was not a recurring payment. I understand that the overall funding for residential drug treatment services currently provided by Tiglin is being examined by the HSE in the context of the national unit cost study. This study will highlight the funding required to maintain an appropriate level of service to individuals receiving residential treatment services funded by the HSE. This will involve an assessment of the needs of service users.


The HSE has assured me that the allocation of available resources to residential drug treatment services this year will be informed by the outcome of the unit cost study. Finally, I emphasise to the Deputy that the Government is committed to putting the national drugs strategy in place this year in order to provide leadership and a renewed response to address the drugs problem in Ireland. It is expected that the drug strategy will build on the harm-reducing approach of previous policies.


I made some inquiries about the withdrawal of funding before I came down to the House. As I said, it was a once-off payment by the HSE CHO area 9. I emphasise to the Deputy that I have been to Tiglin a few times now. Nothing can describe the work that is done out there with people who find themselves trapped in drug addiction. I assure Deputy Curran that I will examine why the funding was withdrawn. The Deputy made a very good point about the fact that many of the people who are in Tiglin are actually from the CHO area so I will continue to follow up on that........


[For the full debate, click on the link above]

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