Parents and children deserve action, not apologies, from the HSE 

Social Democrats TD Holly Cairns has called for urgent action from the HSE after unacceptably long waiting lists for Children’s Disability Network Teams (CDNTs) emerged today.

Deputy Cairns, who is the party’s spokesperson on Disability, said:

“It is a matter of deep concern to learn that the numbers waiting for initial contact with a CDNT increased to over 18,000, according to the most up to date figures. Of these, 8,751 children have been waiting for over a year for a first appointment.

“I am regularly contacted by parents who are deeply frustrated and concerned at the lack of help their children with disabilities or special needs are getting.

“The importance of early intervention in areas such as psychology, speech and language therapy, physiotherapy and occupational therapy cannot be overstated.

“However, disability services for children continue to be severely impacted by an ongoing recruitment crisis. Of the 91 CDNTs around the country, not one is fully staffed,

“While a career in disability services can be very rewarding, pay issues for Section 39 workers in the sector also need to be addressed to prevent further negative impacts for children and their families.

“The Minister of State for Disabilities, Anne Rabbitte, recently told the Dáil there is an average vacancy rate of 28 percent across CDNTs nationwide, which breaks down to around 524 vacancies out of a total allocation of 1,892 staff members.

“The Social Democrats previously called for funding for a Workforce Planning Strategy to help with the recruitment and retention of staff within Children’s Disability Network Teams. In the absence of political will to make this happen, the HSE’s Progressing Disability Services for Children and Young People (PDS) programme will continue to fail families around the country.

“The HSE has apologised for unacceptably long waiting lists, but this will mean little to the families of children desperately in need of appointments.

“They deserve action, not apologies.”

December 5, 2022

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