Skip to main content

More respite beds needed to sufficiently support carers – Burke

30th May 2024 - Senator Paddy Burke

The Department of Health must consider substantially increasing the number respite beds available in Ireland, a Fine Gael Senator has said.

Senator Paddy Burke, Fine Gael Seanad Spokesperson on Social Protection, said: “Yesterday’s announcement of 4,367 new hospital beds is a welcome development and I am pleased to see Minister Stephen Donnelly acknowledge that bed capacity must catch up to our growing and ageing population.

“However, there was no mention in the announcement of a plan for extra respite beds.

Senator Burke said: “In my own constituency of Mayo, there is currently huge demand for respite beds, and I believe this need is echoed all over Ireland.

“For example, the Sacred Heart Hospital in Castlebar which had been closed due to Covid-19 restrictions, reopened recently, and received two new respite and rehabilitation beds.

“This is great news of course but the reality is the hospital does not have the funding to carry out the service properly.

“The reopening is having a positive impact on the town and the region more broadly, but one bed is hardly enough. According to Census 2022 figures, over 299,000 people are family carers in Ireland, and Family Carers Ireland believes the real figure is actually much higher than that.

“That’s a lot of people undertaking vital work. It’s often long hours, day and night, with very little relief.

“When a respite appointment is cancelled, it causes massive disappointment for these hard-working people who were looking forward to a much-needed break.

“My Fine Gael colleague, Deputy Michael Ring, raised the need for respite care beds in County Mayo in the Dáil this month and I intend to keep this dialogue going.

“I am calling on Health Minister Stephen Donnelly to communicate plans for respite beds and inviting Anne Rabbitte, Minister of State at the Department of Health, to the Seanad for a debate on the provision of respite beds throughout the country.

“It’s time the Minister took respite seriously. The well-being of our carers must be a priority – not an afterthought,” Senator Burke concluded.

Stay Up To Date With Fine Gael