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Kerry Cuskelly Mental Health Social Worker SWAN Ireland.

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Presentation on theme: "Kerry Cuskelly Mental Health Social Worker SWAN Ireland."— Presentation transcript:

1 Kerry Cuskelly Mental Health Social Worker SWAN Ireland

2  Where does one start...?!  Current political parties in Ireland – Fine Gael, a conservative right wing party.  In coalition government with the Labour party, a supposed social democratic party.  In reading Fine Gael’s manifesto for government one can clearly see their agenda is one of conservatism, very “pro- business”, individualistic and unsurprisingly conservative/neoliberal in focus.  The minor coalition party Labour, have by all accounts, completely abandoned their manifesto and have given themselves fully over to their conservative “leaders”.  So why waste a good crisis...inflict the “shock doctrine” and privatise public services.


4  Privatisation of public services are;  Not in the public interest  Are morally and ethically questionable  Create monopolies  Against structural/critical/radical social work values (Mullally, 2006)  Fits neoliberal agenda of managerialism, bureaucracy and centralisation (Mullally, 2006)  Individualises and creates tiered systems that in turn create systems of oppression, poverty and structural inequalities  Espouses the dominant ideology of the oppressors but not of the oppressed

5  Only two words are needed in the current climate: Cutting costs


7  In Ireland the privatisation of public services, and in particular health and social care services has been common and is set to increase.  Waste collection  Water  Education  Nursing Homes  Health Care (Universal Health Insurance)  Foster Care Services  Private social work  Children’s residential services  Home care services  Housing

8  Privatisation in Ireland has a few different forms;  Public/Private partnerships (having private companies build things then the public sector rents the thing back from the private sector)  A full sale of state assets (like the current push to sell off Coillte, the state forestry body)  Commercialisation, which transfers all operations to private operators (like in the home care and nursing homes sector)  New public management (managing and running a public service like a private business).  (Ref: INMO, 2010)

9  “There are currently about 600 nursing homes in the country,150 of which are public nursing homes and 450 of which are private nursing homes.” (Who Cares, 2010).  “The information available suggests that the demand for public nursing home care has, for quite some time, exceeded the supply of public places. Despite the shortfall in public places, there has been a decline in publicly-funded long-stay beds over the last five decades. This shortfall is being met by a rapidly expanding private sector” (Who Cares, 2010).

10 YearNo. Of public beds Beds per 1,000 population over 65 years 196813,59442 200110,06723 20098,25018 YearNo. Of private nursing home beds 19976,932 200314,946 200718,883 200920,526

11  Why might the department of health want to privatise the health service?  Between 2008 and 2012 cuts in the health budget amounted to more than €1.8 billion (€1.75 billion in 2010 and 2011 and 2012 of €750m). The health budget stood at €12,237,369 million in 2012, with further cuts planned for 2013. The HSE deficit was €374 million at the end of September 2012; this led to the HSE imposing a €130 million cut in the HSE budget for the remainder of 2012 (Pillinger, 2012)

12  Invisible privatisation of this service – e.g. the state have the statutory obligation to provide care to all children and young people in the state but end up farming out this care out to private companies. The public may not realise this as the services are “marketed” as being provided by the public health system.  The services are still thought of and called “public services” but are in actual fact provided by private companies.  The majority of foster care providers in the state are private companies.

13  The effects of privatisation are particularly damaging here.  There are increasing anecdotal reports (from individuals and organisations) that children who have been living in residential services and turn 18 years old, are literally being told that their care is over and they are placed in accommodation by themselves. This is the case whether the young person is ready for this transition, whether they are in full-time education or whether they actually want this.  This is only happening where the young person is living in a private residential home, it does not happen in the public or voluntary homes.

14  Makes up relatively small part of the sector currently.  Typically hired on a freelance basis as GAL’s or Guardian ad Litem’s.  Private social workers can also be found in private hospitals and as link social workers for private foster care agencies.  I am not including social workers in the voluntary or “third sector” in this area.  Contention around the use of GAL’s for a few reasons; 1. What they do  2. Price

15  In some local councils there is a worrying and growing trend whereby councils are deliberately not building/investing in social housing and local authority housing (citing lack of interest) as the primary reason for this.  Then a deliberate policy decision at local level is made to move towards the private-rented sector.  Council’s may be forced onto this trajectory due to massively decreased budgets, staff cutbacks and increased pressure to produce better outcomes with less.  The future of housing looks like massively increased privatisation.


17 Using Direct Action – Home Care Package campaign in the last quarter of 2012. PCSW and MHSW worked together to mobilise SW’s in Dublin. Also, mobilised as many service users, families and home help staff as possible. Collected over 300 signatures for petition. Handed these in with the 10,000 other signatures collected. Marched with home help staff, SU’s and families in national anti-austerity demonstration. Campaign succeeded in getting home help hours reinstated to Jan 2012 levels.

18 Photo by Sandra O Hara

19 Photo by Paula Campbell

20 Photo by Nigel Hanlon

21  The privatisation of public services in Ireland seems to be promoting common themes:  Money, being the prime driving force behind this trend. Specifically, the drive to cut costs at all costs.  An almost cult-like presumption that there is “no alternative” to any of this, apart from privatisation of everything.  The complete disregard for balanced debate, meaningful discussion or meaningful inclusion of the relevant communities, people or stakeholders, before significant changes are made to public services.  A clandestine atmosphere surrounding the management of our public services (public servants in management having the attitude that they are managing private businesses and are therefore not accountable to, and have no obligation to, the public).  The demonisation and vilification of people working (on the frontline/lower paid) in the public sector.

22  Challenging the language of privatisation!  Continuing to build alliances with service users, families, service user groups around this issue (home help staff and more recently disability activists)  Using trade unions to fight for a better alternative.  Informal organising within our workplaces  Attempting to open up a rational and balanced discussion on the issue.

23  To contact me please email:  Check out the SWAN Ireland facebook page on:!/swan.ireland.3?fref =ts!/swan.ireland.3?fref =ts  Check out the SWAN Ireland page on the main SWAN website: swan/regional-swan/ireland swan/regional-swan/ireland  Email SWAN Ireland at:

24  Department of Health, Ireland, (2012), “Future Health”.  Doublethink image accessed here:  Dr. Jane Pillinger, (IMPACT Trade Union), (2012), “The Future of health Care in Ireland”.  Fine Gael Health Policy, (2011), “Fair Care”.  Home and Community Care Ireland, (2012), “The Business Case for the Outsourcing of Home Care Provision and a More Efficient Use of Fair Deal Funds”.  ofile~household-waste-collection?OpenDocument ofile~household-waste-collection?OpenDocument  over-15m-clinic-26875022.html over-15m-clinic-26875022.html  Reports/HSE-Nursing-Homes/Who-Cares/Executive-Summary.html Reports/HSE-Nursing-Homes/Who-Cares/Executive-Summary.html

25  Authorities/Investigation-into-the-operation-by-Local-Authorities-of-Waiver- Schemes-for-Refuse-Collection-Charges/Conclusions.html Authorities/Investigation-into-the-operation-by-Local-Authorities-of-Waiver- Schemes-for-Refuse-Collection-Charges/Conclusions.html    INMO, (2010), The Privatisation of the Irish Health Care System. Position Paper. althcare%20System%20Position%20Paper%20(3).pdf althcare%20System%20Position%20Paper%20(3).pdf  Peadar O'Grady, (2012), “Economic Crisis: Austerity and Privatisation in Healthcare in Ireland” in Irish Marxist Review. Vol.1 No. 2.  People Before Profit Health Policy, (2012)  Social Justice Ireland (2013), “What Would a Real recovery Look Like”? %20Socio%20Economic%20Review%202013%20-%20FULL%20BOOK%20- %20FINAL.pdf %20Socio%20Economic%20Review%202013%20-%20FULL%20BOOK%20- %20FINAL.pdf  The pictures were taken by: Paula Campbell, Sandra O Hara, Nigel Hanlon  The posters pictured were made by People Before Profit.  All website addresses were last accessed on 11/04/13.

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