HSE report reveals 700 vacancies across 91 Children’s Disability Network Teams 

Disability services for children continue to be severely impacted by the HSE’s failure to get to grips with the serious recruitment crisis within the sector, according to Holly Cairns, leader of the Social Democrats.

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

“It is deeply concerning to learn that there were over 700 vacancies across the country’s 91 Children’s Disability Network Teams (CDNTs) in 2022. An unpublished HSE report also revealed there was a drop of 60,000 therapy hours last year, a reduction of five percent.

“Parents who are anxiously awaiting assessments for their children will be appalled to hear that more than a third of approved posts within CDNTs were still vacant at the end of last year, and that the number of therapy hours decreased in eight of the nine Community Healthcare Organisation (CHO) areas.

“Just a few months ago, we heard that the numbers waiting for initial contact with a CDNT had increased to over 18,000. Of these, 8,751 children were waiting for over a year for their first appointment.

“It is clear that recruitment continues to a major factor in the level of dysfunction within our disability services. There is little point in the HSE announcing the approval of additional posts if they are unable to fill them.

“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. There also needs to be a full assessment of why these posts are not being taken up, despite national and international recruitment campaigns.

“Early intervention is vital in areas such as psychology, speech and language therapy, physiotherapy and occupational therapy. The Minister for Disability and the HSE are acutely aware of the deep frustration felt by thousands of families across the country and must act now to tackle this crisis.”

March 3, 2023

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