Cash concerns at Monasterevin’s Moore Abbey as management meet with unions

The Muiriosa Foundation (Moore Abbey) based in Monasterevin is running a deficit approaching €1 million with urgent talks due to take place this Wednesday with the Irish Nurses and Midwifery Organisation (INMO), Impact and Siptu.

The Muiriosa Foundation (Moore Abbey) based in Monasterevin is running a deficit approaching €1 million with urgent talks due to take place this Wednesday with the Irish Nurses and Midwifery Organisation (INMO), Impact and Siptu.

The Muiriosa Foundation formerly known as the Sisters of Charity of Jesus & Mary provides a range of services and supports to persons with an intellectual disability and their families – residential services, respite, day services, education, and multidisciplinary supports. It provides services to 300 adults in residental care, 200 adults in day services and up to 700 children across six midland counties - Kildare, Laois, Offaly, Westmeath, Meath and Longford.

It provides services on behalf of the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the HSE are its main funders.

Correspondence seen by the Leader this week, from its CEO Brendan Broderick to senior managers, indicates the care centre in Monasterevin is rapidly approaching a point where it will have real difficulty in meeting its fortnightly payroll obligations.

“As you are no doubt aware, we have been beating the drum about the need to make very significant inroads on our levels of expenditure for many months,” the letter reads. “At our most recent local managers’ forum in May, it was underlined the very real danger that there might come a time when we would find that we did not have the wherewithal to cover the next payroll run...we might find ourselves at such a point four to six months’ hence, ie sometime between September and the year-end. In fact, we came perilously close to this point this week.” The letter states the foundation’s fortnightly payroll bill comes to €900,000 and it’s overdraft facility is limited to €700,000. The letter further adds that its deficit as of the end of May was €955,000. “We need to make some very big decisions within the next few days and implement them faithfully and rigorously...The elimination of any reliance on agency staff in all our residential and day services and the replacement of this reliance through back-filling by redeploying permanent staff members will be the central plank of our strategy,” the letter concludes.

Speaking to the Leader, CEO Mr Broderick confirmed the finanical concerns outlined in the internal correspondence.

“The Muiriosa Foundation, formerly the Sisters of Charity of Jesus & Mary (Moore Abbey), like every other disability service provider, are under severe pressure to put in place adjusted arrangements to maintain current service levels while at the same time coping with the 3.7 per cent cut in allocation which applies nationally in 2012 to all disability service providers,” he said.

The Foundation is operating with a 14 per cent cut in its core allocation benchmarked against 2008 levels, he explained. “The letters to managers mention a near-miss which emerged last week which could have jeopardised our ability to meet a payroll run. This was a cashflow/liquidity issue driven in part by an expenditure over-run and by having had to pay out €650,000 cash in lump-sum payments associated with the ‘grace period’ exit scheme.”

He further noted the leaking of an in-house communication to local managers advising them of the now-urgent imperative to identify and implement fail-safe expenditure control measures within the next week was “unhelpful and dissappointing”.

Meanwhile, management is expected to meet with the staff unions this Wednesday. Speaking ahead of the meeting, Derek Reilly INMO industrial relations officer, said: “Moore Abbey services are already working under severe constraints and the current level of service is totally dependent on maintaining the current staffing levels, including agency input. It is inevitable that any further reduction in staff will have significant negative consequences for the clients and their families. It is totally unacceptable that the Foundation have allowed the situation develop to such a point without having engaged with their unions and prepared staff and clients in advance. The INMO is committed to preserving services for clients and the jobs of the hard working staff at Moore Abbey.”

The Foundation which is party to the Croke Park Agreement has not made contact with unions representing staff as is a requirement under that agreement, he added.

“We are becoming increasingly concerned that the severity of the cutbacks proposed will pose a risk for the future of Moore Abbey and the important services provided to their vulnerable clients.”

More than 670 people are employed by the Foundation overall. In Monasterevin alone 120 nurses work with Moore Abbey.