Staff shortages in speech and occupational therapy services in Donegal have led some children to lose their skills, it has been claimed.
Cllr Gerry Crawford brought parents’ concerns to the HSE at today’s meeting of the Regional Health Forum West.
The Lifford/Stranorlar councillor has called for interim measures to ensure that the services continue for children. Some of those children have not seen a therapist since the summer.
“It’s sad to see some of the children who would have been used to this service and had a routine, it’s sad to watch how much they have regressed in the short period since the summer recess,” Cllr Crawford said.
The Donegal Primary Care Speech and Language Therapy Service was significantly impacted by staff vacancies, resignations and lengthy waiting lists post Covid pandemic.
Vacancies exist across all paediatric and adult services this year within Donegal Primary Care and Social Care Occupational Therapy Services (excluding the Children’s Disability Network Team – CDNT).
Dermot Monaghan, Chief Officer of HSE Community Healthcare Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan, Sligo said that there is a challenging environment at present but there is a pathway for those who require services most.
Local recruitment campaigns are underway to recruit for vacant positions.
“We are hoping to have some traction on recruitment in the next three to four months in all our key areas,” Mr Monaghan told Cllr Crawford.
“We are funding private assessments and private treatments but the problem is we have maxed all that out. The level of people available to work for us is significantly reduced.”
Mr Monaghan outlined that the HSE is seeking to identify people in Northern Ireland, the UK, Australia and New Zealand to attract them to work in Ireland. There is also an ATU Bursary Scheme for graduates of Coventry University in 2024 and 2025.
Mr Monaghan said that recruitment staff are “keen to think outside the box” to fill current vacancies.