Brendan Smith: Children’s Disability Services urgently need more healthcare professionals

Pictured following a meeting in Leinster House with the Minister for Disabilities, Anne Rabbitte TD, are local Oireachtas Members and parents who are campaigning for improved services for children with special the Cavan/Monaghan area.

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan and Monaghan, Brendan Smith, has urged the HSE to prioritise the recruitment of additional healthcare professionals for children requiring appropriate therapeutic-interventions and supports in Cavan and Monaghan.

Following a question to Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly in Dáil Eireann, Deputy Brendan Smith commented, “Delays in children obtaining supports such as speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, psychology and social work are totally unacceptable.

“Locally, I have been consistently raising with the Minister for Health and the HSE the need to improve services in Cavan and Monaghan. We urgently need to recruit additional healthcare professionals in view of long delays for children receiving appropriate therapeutic-interventions and supports from Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Psychologists and Social Workers in Cavan and Monaghan.”

In response to Deputy Brendan Smith, the Minister stated: “The HSE acknowledges that Cavan and Monaghan Children’s Disability Network Teams (CDNT) are currently operating their services with reduced staff numbers due to recruitment issues being experienced locally and nationally.

“The HSE advise that it is currently in the process of recruiting for vacant posts in the areas of speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, psychology and social work. However, it is acknowledged that there are significant challenges in the recruitment of staff due to the availability of options for candidates across the health and social care sector. Senior management in CHO1 are currently examining a range of options to attract staff.

“At present, there are a number of initiatives currently supporting efforts to provide timely therapeutic interventions in the area: Joint Children’s Disabilities and Primary Care Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnostic Wait List Initiative – this joint initiative has been allocated funding to complete 130 private provider ASD assessments for those waiting longest in Cavan and Monaghan.”

The Minister added: “Occupational Therapy/Physiotherapy Waitlist Initiative – this initiative is managed by Primary Care Services in Cavan and Monaghan, offering assessment and brief intervention to children who are waiting for Occupational Therapy/Physiotherapy. The initiative has commenced in 2022, with the HSE aiming to reduce the number of children on the waiting list over a twelve-month period.”