29 Jun 2022

HSE vacancies delay children's assessments


Fiona Heavey

It is claimed vacancies on the HSE Children’s Early Intervention Team is delaying assessments of young Leitrim children who need to access the services promptly.

Drumshanbo Sinn Féin Councillor Brendan Barry brought the issue to light this week saying the situation “is not acceptable.”

He got full support from the Ballinamore Municipal Area meeting on Monday last to write to the HSE asking them to ensure a full team is available to help children of this area and the wider County Leitrim at all times.

Cllr Barry informed members “last year the Paediatric Occupational Therapist was missing for most of the year, the community facilitator is just a phone service, where you leave a message and the Speech and Language Therapist resigned from the position this year.”

Cllr Barry exclaimed, “It is not acceptable that the Children’s Early Intervention Team can be missing members for months without them being replaced/ substituted promptly.”

He noted that the lack of professionals means children have their assessments delayed and are not receiving the services they need in prompt time.

He noted it is called “EARLY” intervention but it is currently delayed.

The HSE told the Leitrim Observer, in response to Cllr Barry, “The South Leitrim Early Intervention Team consists of a Senior Occupational Therapist, Senior Physiotherapist, Senior Speech and Language Therapist, Psychologist, and Community Facilitator for Disability.

“Although the team have experienced temporary vacancies during 2015/2016, the HSE can confirm that All children referred to the Early Intervention Team in the South Leitrim throughout 2015 were seen for Team assessment within 3 months as per local policy which reflects National Guidelines for referral.”

The HSE did not make reference to any assessments this year.

They did note, “All diagnostic assessments for Autism Spectrum Disorder were completed in 2015.

A spokesperson for the HSE informed the paper “A temporary appointment of a Occupational Therapist in the coming weeks will specifically target waiting list.

“In addition the Speech and Language Therapist post which has recently become vacant is currently in being replaced through National Recruitment Service.”

The Early Intervention Team is for children, aged 0-6 years, and their families who have complex developmental needs.

The team deals with developmental delays and children who are experiencing difficulty in a variety of areas including communication, speech and language; motor skills; self care and independence, learning new tasks, social interaction; and managing feelings.

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