St John of God reaches deal with HSE to continue providing community services

Voluntary organisation providing disability and mental health services had long complained of underfunding crisis

The HSE has reached an agreement with St John of God Community Services that will enable the organisation to continue providing intellectual disability and mental health services.

St John of God Community Services, part of the wider St John of God Hospitaller Services Group, is funded by the HSE to provide services to 8,000 children and adults on behalf of the State.

The voluntary organisation has been in negotiations with the HSE for several years over what it says is a significant shortfall in its funding.

It told the HSE last month that if it did not secure a bailout of more than €30 million it would have to hand over responsibility to run its community services to the State. The organisation earlier this month gave notice to the HSE that it intended to cease providing these services by the middle of August following a “failure” to come to an agreement on funding.


The organisation employs around 3,000 staff and provides care to 2,500 people with intellectual disabilities, as well as 5,500 adult and youth patients in mental health services.

In a joint statement on Wednesday, the HSE and St John of God Community Services said the provider would “continue to deliver its full range of services at all existing locations”. The announcement followed 10 days of “intensive discussions” between the two sides, it said.

“There is a commitment to the in-year funding for 2024, and there is a guaranteed time frame within which final decisions will be made about the issues arising from the historical deficit in St John of God Community Services,” the statement added.

The organisation previously said it had built up a financial deficit of more than €30 million due to HSE funding falling short of covering the annual cost of providing care.

Clare Dempsey, chief executive of the provider, said the deal was a “positive outcome for all parties and is certainly in the best interests of the 8,000 people to whom we provide intellectual disability and mental health services around the country”.

HSE chief executive Bernard Gloster said he was pleased an agreement had been found to enable the provider to continue to deliver its services.

In a statement, Minister of State with responsibility for disabilities Anne Rabbitte said she was “delighted” St John of God would not be handing over the running of its services to the HSE. “This positive outcome will be a relief for many who were anxiously awaiting developments,” she said.

A group representing families of thousands of people using St John of God mental health and disability services also welcomed the development. “It is now essential that this agreement results in adequate and long-term funding for high quality services,” it said.

The thousands of people who used the provider’s services had been “devastated and alarmed by the fresh uncertainty” caused by the organisation stating it was planning to transfer them to the HSE, the group said.

St John of God Community Services previously told the HSE it would cease providing the community services in late 2020. However, following an appeal the provider paused its decision and entered into negotiations around future funding.

  • See our new project Common Ground, Evolving Islands: Ireland & Britain
  • Sign up for push alerts and have the best news, analysis and comment delivered directly to your phone
  • Find The Irish Times on WhatsApp and stay up to date
  • Our In The News podcast is now published daily – Find the latest episode here
Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times