Doherty Slams Health Minister as Psychology Post for Donegal Children with Disabilities Remains Unfilled after Three Years
Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Deputy Pearse Doherty has heavily criticised the HSE and the Minister for Health over revelations that a dedicated Psychologist position for children and young people with diagnosed disabilities in Donegal has still to filled, despite the post having been approved back in 2015.
The Donegal TD was reacting to correspondence he has received from the HSE which shows that despite three dedicated posts having been granted to deliver the service, just one was ever filled permanently while another continues to be filled temporarily and on a part-time basis only.
Recruitment for the third post was only completed in March of this year after the position was upgraded to a more senior level but in a part-time capacity. Meanwhile, it’s understood that expressions of interest will again be sought for the outstanding vacant post shortly.
Blasting the situation, Deputy Doherty said:
“The Donegal Psychology Department manages three waiting lists in respect of children and young people, these include Primary Care Child Psychology, School Age Disability Psychology and Autism Spectrum Disorder Assessment for children over 6 years.
“The Primary Care Child Psychology Service provides psychological assessment and intervention for children and adolescents with emotional and or behavioural difficulties as well as those who have experienced trauma.
“The School Age Disability Psychology is delivered to children and young people in the county with diagnosed disabilities who require multidisciplinary team input and includes psychological assessment and intervention.
“However, the HSE has confirmed that it has been unable to recruit psychologists to the service, despite three dedicated staff grade posts having been approved back in 2015.
“While one was filled on a permanent basis, the second has been filled temporarily at irregular periods over the course of the intervening years, with the third having since been filled but only after it was upgraded to a more senior grade last March albeit on a part-time basis.
“As a result of these ongoing vacancies, the waiting list for this service is growing and the list of children with disabilities in Donegal who require psychological assessment and intervention remains longer than children who do not have a disability – that is simply shameful.
“As of July this year, there are 86 children and young people living with a disability who desperately need access to these services, yet they are being referred to a service which has and continues to be curtailed due to major staffing issues.
“The HSE has stated that the outstanding vacant post will be again circulated in the coming weeks and expressions of interest will be sought to fill the role.
“In the interim, it’s claimed that part-time temporary cover for the post has again been secured as of last May and that this person will continue to work alongside the psychologists currently delivering the service for as long as they remain available.
“It is simply not good enough to think that children with disabilities and their families face far greater challenges when trying to access vital supports and services, yet this is exactly what is happening here in Donegal.
“Clearly children living with a disability are being failed time and time again by the Government and the health authorities, so much so that their inaction has meant that this situation has been allowed to fester for three years now.
“I intend to raise this serious matter with the Minister once the Dáil resumes this week and I will be demanding to know what efforts will now be taken to immediately address the service’s growing waiting list numbers and to urgently recruit the necessary staff to deliver this vital service.”