Notice to Terminate Services Arrangement with the HSE

30th September 2020

Saint John of God Community Services has today announced it is to serve  notice of termination of its Service Arrangement with the HSE and its intention to transfer responsibility for the operation of its services directly to the HSE over the next 12 months. Saint John of God Community Services clg will cease its involvement in the provision of these services by 1 October 2021.

The Chief Executive of the Service has confirmed that with very great regret, she had served on the instruction of the Board, a formal Notice of Termination of The Services Arrangement in a letter sent to the HSE on Wednesday 30 September.

The Service currently provides intellectual disability and mental health and services to over 8,000 children, adolescents and adults and employs 3000 staff and volunteers in 300 locations across counties Dublin, Kildare, Kerry, Wicklow, Meath and Louth. Over 2,500 of those impacted are in receipt of day, residential and respite services for people with a disability. The Order of St John of God has been providing these services to children adolescents and adults for almost a century.

The Chief Executive of St John of God Community Services, Clare Dempsey, said they had spent recent days advising the children and adults supported by the services, their families and staff members, retirees and volunteers to inform them of the very sad decision that had to be taken due to a protracted and unresolved funding crisis that had undermined the organisation for over a decade.

“This is a day we wished would never come but in the face of an intractable funding crisis that has prevailed for over a decade, we simply cannot continue. In February of this year we advised the HSE that so acute was the extent of the financial crisis facing our service that if the accumulated deficit and current funding requirements were not addressed, we would be left with no option but to serve 12 months’ notice to Terminate the Services Arrangement and transfer responsibility for the entirety of our service provision to the HSE.

In recent weeks we wrote to the Government to alert them to the seriousness of the current situation and the fact that the Board was likely in late September to formally take this decision, in the absence of a firm and unequivocal commitment to address an existing €27 million annual funding gap and the accumulated deficit which stands at €37.7 million at the end of August 2020, This accumulated deficit would stand at almost € 54m but for the Order’s contribution of €16m over recent years to sustain service provision.        

The step that we have now taken goes against what we want to do and what we have tried to do for almost a century. The Board can no longer preside over an intolerable situation that has so frequently compromised despite the best efforts of staff the services and supports we provide to people. This prevents us from expediting the transition of residents from campus bases  institutional settings into  a home in the community; it forces our reliance on old  vehicles, it sees us operating out of dilapidated and unsuitable buildings and relying on an ICT systems that are urgently in need of investment.

We have endured over a decade of underfunding within our services with persistent funding gaps in annual allocations and very significant deficits building up on a monthly basis. With each passing day, the interests and the rights of the children, adolescents and adults we support are being forgotten and failed by the inaction of the State – and by us continuing to try and hold services together under these conditions, we too are complicit in that failure”.

In separate letters to service users and their families and to staff members, volunteers and retirees, the Service said it would do everything in its power to manage the smooth transfer of service over the 12-month period and that its priority will be to ensure the least possible disruption in particular to its service users, their families and staff.

There will be no immediate changes in respect of the services as they are currently provided. An early meeting has been sought with the HSE, to begin putting the appropriate arrangements and plans in place.