Mental health service provider transfers operations to HSE

Saint John of God Community Services said the move comes after failure to reach a new funding agreement with the HSE.

A leading provider of intellectual disability and community mental health services has announced a decision to transfer its operations to the HSE because of unstainable budgetary issues.

Saint John of God Community Services (SJOGCS), which works with around 8,000 children and adults, said the move comes after failure to reach a new funding agreement with the HSE.

It said the transition of services would be completed by August 15 this year.

The non-for-profit provider communicated the decision to its service users and staff and volunteers on Friday.

The organisation cited a debt of around 32 million euro and an estimated recurring shortfall in annual HSE funding of around the same value as the factors behind the move.

It said it had been engaging with the HSE over the funding issues since 2020 and in recent months said it had flagged “serious concerns” about its ongoing “financial and operational sustainability”.

The Department of Health and the Department of Children, Equality, Disability and Integration have also been involved in the discussions in recent weeks, the organisation said.

Chief executive of Saint John of God Community Services, Clare Dempsey, said it was a very sad day.

“We are confirming with profound regret and deep disappointment that due to the failure of an extensive engagement process with the HSE, we have initiated the plan to transfer responsibility for service provision to the HSE,” she said.

“This process will see the formal transition of all current services delivered by Saint John of God Community Services to the HSE and the complete cessation of our involvement in these services by August 15 2024.

“By that date, the HSE must have assumed full responsibility for the service, and we will use the time between now and then, to manage the handover process.

“Today represents the saddest day in the history of our long-established service, which has been in operation since the 1930s.

“I know it is deeply disappointing for those we support, our staff and the many thousands of families around the country with whom we hold such strong ties and bonds over so many years.

“We will do all in our power to conduct a smooth transfer of service to HSE and will seek to minimise the impact on the 8,000 people availing of our services, as well as our 3,000 valued members of staff.”

The service said it expected staff would transition to the employment of the HSE as part of the process.

It currently operates in 300 locations across counties Dublin, Kildare, Kerry, Wicklow, Meath, Monaghan and Louth.

Saint John of God Hospital in Dublin and Saint Joseph’s facility for dementia care in Shankill are unaffected by the announcement.