Sinn Féin TD Darren O’Rourke says the Government must act urgently to fill vacant posts in Children’s Disability Network Teams (CDNTs) in Meath following confirmation that 1 in 4 posts are unfilled across the county’s four Networks.
The issue of children’s disability services in the county was also the subject of debate in the Dáil chamber last week. Minister Frank Feighan, on behalf of Disabilities Minister Anne Rabbitte, acknowledged that there have been significant difficulties in the implementation of disability service reforms by the HSE. He said Minister Rabbitte is aware that network teams in Co. Meath are experiencing challenges, particularly in the area of recruitment, and this is resulting in unacceptably low child-to-therapist staffing ratios and unacceptable delays in accessing support.
He told Meathlive “The figures released to me confirm that each of Meath’s four Children’s Disability Network Teams have multiple vacancies. Every Team has multiple vacancies and they are across grades and across diciplines. This has a major impact on service provision, “Network 2 (Kells) has 3.6 unfilled posts across psychology and SLT. Network 4 (Ashbourne/Dunshaughlin) has 7.3 unfilled posts across physio, SLT, OT, psychology and social work. Network 5 (Navan/Slane) has 5.16 unfilled posts across SLT, OT and psychology. Network 6 (Trim) has 4.7 unfilled posts across physio, OT, psychology. This equates to approximately 1 in 4 posts unfilled across the county.
“In a subsequent Dáil debate following receipt of these figures, Minister Frank Feighan acknowledged the challenges in the area and the impact they are having on service provision. Child-to-staff ratios are too high, waiting lists for assessments and therapies are unacceptably long.
“While this acknowledgement is welcome, it isn’t enough. Government must ensure that these recrtuitment challenges are resolved urgently. It can be done. There are options. Sinn Féin have set out proposals which we believe would address the recruitment and retention crisis. We need a ‘job guarantee’, improved terms and conditions, and more alternative routes to entry. Addressing the crisis will require a focussed, multi-department, co-ordinated response. We have not seen that from Government.