Gerry Adams has criticised the Minister for Health for allowing a situation to persist in North Louth where 209 children are waiting for an appointment with HSE psychology services which may take up to 33 months
The Louth Sinn Féin TD said;
“I have been contacted by a number of families from the Dundalk area who have been advised to refer their children to the HSE’s psychology services in Barrack Street. Yet when they do this they are notified of an appointment date which could be years into the future. Often this initial appointment is not even with the child but is designed to give parents advice on how they can help their child at home.
“I spoke to one mother whose 5 year old child had accidentally seen an inappropriate video game at school. The child was obviously traumatised, he couldn’t be left in a room on his own day or night. That family needed help and advice at that time, but they couldn’t access it.
“The response to my parliamentary question indicates that there are 209 children on the waiting list for north Louth, many of them will be in acute need of psychological support.
“In the South of the county there are 175 children on the waiting list with a longest wait time of 10 months.10 months is too long for a vulnerable child to wait for help, but 33 months, almost 3 years, is an absolute disgrace.
“I have written to Simon Harris to ask him to recruit additional staff in primary care psychology in North Louth to eradicate this waiting list and provide more than a service which exists in name only.”
“I am also mindful of the stress which those working in this service are experiencing. It is unfair to expect an understaffed and under resourced service to meet demand.
“Unless more resources are targeted in this direction this government will continue to fail children and their families in Louth.”
Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Gerry Adams has reiterated his concerns about the resourcing and staffing of the disability division of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) in Louth and East Meath and of the Meath Paediatric Psychology service.
Teachta Adams said: “In a recent response to me the Chief Officer for Midlands Louth Meath Community Health Organisation (CHO) detailed some of the serious resource difficulties that this CHO is currently experiencing”.
Gerry Adams said:
“Children who present with moderate to severe mental health problems are seen by the CAMHS service. It is a multi-disciplinary service and the psychologists involved work alongside other related disciplines. Currently only one of the three psychology posts is currently filled.
Psychologists who work within the disability division work with children aged from 6-18. They have responsibility for seeing children with intellectual, physical and sensory disabilities, including autism. According to the CHO there are usually over 400 referrals each year to psychologists working in this area. There are currently five WTE (whole time equivalents) posts of which one is vacant.
The young child whose case Cllr Ferguson and I have been raising has been on the children’s disability waiting list for over one year. According to the Chief Officer of Midlands Louth Meath CHO the waiting lists can vary from between 18 months and two years.
The reason for this is “down to a significant increase in referrals over the last six years to this service in Meath. Also, there have been four staff departures and three staff maternity leaves within the last two years. Due to a shortage of psychologists nationally, and the demand for vacancies to be filled across the country, this has resulted in service gaps over a long period of time with the difficulties being experiences in filling these posts”.
The CHO Chief Officer also revealed that the primary care psychology service which usually receives over 800 referrals each year and provides therapy for child victims of sexual, physical and emotional abuse, is short three posts out of seven.
I have written to the Minister for Health. Very clearly there are very significant gaps in service provision within the Meath Paediatric Psychology service and the CAMHS division. I have asked Minister Harris what plans he has to address the obvious gaps in service provision and to fill the staff vacancies that currently exist.”
L-R SF Cllrs Antóin Watters, Mickey Larkin, Roisin Mulgrew, Edel Corrigan & Pearse McGeough
The Cross Border Fire and Ambulance Services gave a presentation to Councillors and members of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) this week.
Sinn Féin councillors from Louth, Armagh and Down expressed concern that the current Memorandum of Understanding between Louth County Council (LCC) Fire & Rescue and NI Fire that has been in place since 2012 would be in jeopardy post Brexit.
Councillor Antóin Watters had raised the issue a few weeks ago following an accident on the main A1 dual carriageway just north of Dundalk. LCC Fire and Rescue were called to assist the Newry Fire Services following a car accident.
Sinn Fein councillor for the Slieve Gullion Area Mickey Larkin said “We need to ensure that this cross border co-operation continues after Brexit. We received a very valuable presentation from Joe Lumdsen for LCC Fire and rescue which related to Cross Border Emergency Planning. He informed us that they have been mobilised to 31 incidents on both sides of the border since the Memorandum of Understanding started in 2012.”
Cllr Watters said “Let’s face it, people from the remote part of North Louth, like Omeath and Edentubber would get an ambulance much quicker from Newry than they would from Drogheda. People in these areas need to be able to rely on these vital cross border services. There is so much uncertainty around Brexit but this is one issue that we need confirmation and clarity on.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Edel Corrigan who is joint Chair of the MOU said “We must ensure that response times and access to both sides of the border is not affected. Brexit should not cost people’s lives and with all the uncertainty around the issue and the possibility of a hard border, we in Sinn Féin are calling on the Irish and British Governments to ensure this vital co-operation continues.”
Sinn Fein TD for Louth Gerry Adams has said that he is gravely concerned following confirmation from the HSE that commitments to expand the service provided by the Minor Injuries Unit at Louth County Hospital Dundalk are now in jeopardy.
The Louth TD said;
“Simon Harris came to Dundalk in November 2017 and announced that by February 2018 the Minor Injuries Unit at the Louth Hospital would begin seeing additional paediatric patients by reducing the current age threshold of 14 years old to 5 years old.
“In January I submitted a parliamentary question regarding the progress of this development and in response the RCSI Hospital Group, which runs health facilities in Louth, Meath and North Dublin, said: ‘It is envisaged that the Local Injuries Unit at the Louth County Hospital will be in a position to start seeing patients over five years of age with minor injuries in Quarter 2 2018. This change in practice remains dependent on staffing and appropriate staff mix’
“I submitted a further parliamentary question this month and the RCSI Hospital Group now tell me that the agreed start time for this service will be delayed due to ‘unanticipated resignations.’
“Furthermore the response goes on to state that ‘while the Louth Hospitals continue to endeavour to recruit the compliment of staff that is required to establish a safe level of service, they are not in a position to provide an updated time frame at this time.’
Cllr Anne Campbell
“From these responses it is clear to me that there is a real threat that this expanded service for those over 5 years old may never become operational.
“I am shocked that the Minister for Health would make such a grand announcement without any of the necessary ground work being complete.
“I have asked the Minister for Health what recruitment campaign has been undertaken to ensure that the staff are in place to operate this service and I urge him to honour the commitments he has made to Dundalk.
“My colleague councillor Anne Campbell will also be raising this matter at the next meeting of the Dublin North East Regional Health Forum, at which representatives of the RCSI Hospital Group will be present.”