Deputy Joe Flaherty has expressed disappointment and concern at the failure to release HSE staff from COVID testing duties and back to Early Intervention Services.
He said that the Early Intervention Service at the Phoenix Centre in Longford is effectively at a standstill and that some of our most vulnerable children are paying a hefty price.
Said the Longford TD: “I appreciate that the country is at Level 5 and that staff have been redeployed as per the NPHET guidelines but the reality is that some of our most vulnerable children and their beleaguered parents have been without help and support now for seven months.”
Deputy Flaherty recently raise the issue with the HSE and they advised that it would not be possible to consider stepping back up normal Early Intervention Services until the country emerges from Level 5.
THE HSE advised that urgent priority one children are being offered appointments via tele-health and where this doesn’t work, a COVID risk assessment is undertaken to arrange a face to face appointment safely for client and staff. But said Deputy Flaherty: “It is far from practical or workable for the young children and there is no doubt but they are being adversely affected at a critical time in their development.”
Deputy Flaherty said he had hoped that the recent advertising campaign which sought swabbers and testers for the COVID project would enable the HSE to release their Early Intervention staff back to their roles. But he said: “I was extremely disappointed to learn that as of October 15 just eight swabbers have received contracts in the six county CHO8 area which includes Co Longford.”
Added Deputy Flaherty: “it is important that the HSE immediately recruits to fill these testing roles and release staff back to Early Intervention duties without delay. We are failing these young children and their development should not be an ancillary casualty in the battle with COVID.”