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 Header Item Charities and Voluntary Organisations (Continued)
 Header Item Services for People with Disabilities

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 830 No. 3

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin]  There is a need for an independent investigation. I make that case because the Health Service Executive, Rehab and other structures are making claim and counter-claim in regard to what was agreed and what was understood. I do not know, and we do not know, who is giving us the full facts. That is why an independent third party should be engaged to establish the full facts and who will have our confidence in presenting their report.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly To correct the record of the House, there has not been any cut to disability. This Government spends more than €6.4 billion on disability annually. Our commitment to those with disability is very clear, and I am very fortunate to have at my side a Minister of State, Deputy Kathleen Lynch, who is in charge of this area and in charge of mental health because she is a very strong defender of those sectors, and rightly so.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Of course there have been cuts-----

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly No, there have not been cuts.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin -----and under the Minister's stewardship.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly I did not interrupt the Deputy, but as he has interrupted me I will remind him of his shroud-waving, general forecasting of doom and gloom at every availability opportunity, and the outrage auction he engages in trying to top the last outrage in which he has been involved.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin No. It sounds very like the Minister's own time here on these benches. Another useless act on the Minister's part

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly I remind him also of his inability to accept the facts and his urgency to ignore due process and call for independent inquiries when it is clear there is a process in place that is delivering what the people need, namely, clarity and assurance that into the future any moneys given by either the taxpayer or through the goodwill of ordinary men and women who make contributions for charitable purposes will be spent on providing services to those in need and not to provide top-ups or other arrangements for highly paid executives.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin I thought the Minister's qualifications were in medicine. Clearly, spin-doctoring is the only qualification he has got.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Order, please.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly Sinn Féin would not know about that.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt The next priority question is in the name of Deputy Finian McGrath.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Spin-doctoring, ably assisted by the Minister's colleague beside him.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Please. I am trying to introduce the next question. Deputy McGrath is not present. Therefore, we will move on to Question No. 4 in the name of Deputy Colm Keaveney. I ask Deputy Keaveney to introduce the question.

  Question No. 3 replied to with Written Answers.

Services for People with Disabilities

 4. Deputy Colm Keaveney Information on Colm Keaveney Zoom on Colm Keaveney asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the way he will address the deficit of early intervention teams for children in many parts of the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7187/14]

Deputy Colm Keaveney: Information on Colm Keaveney Zoom on Colm Keaveney The object of the question is to elicit a response with respect to the waiting lists nationally for the early implementation teams. I would be grateful if the Minister would give us a response to that effect.

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch The Government is committed to the provision and development of services for children with a disability, including early intervention services, within available resources. While these services are in the process of being reconfigured under the Health Service Executive's national programme on progressing disability services for children and young people from birth to 18 years, it is important to note that all HSE areas have significant early intervention services in place for children with disabilities, from birth to aged 18. These are provided directly by the HSE or by voluntary service providers funded by the HSE.

The aim of the programme on progressing disability services for children and young people is to achieve a national, unified approach to delivering disability health services in order that there is a clear pathway to services for all children - it is not in place at present - regardless of where they live, the school they go to or the nature of their disability. An additional €4 million has been specifically allocated in 2014 to drive implementation of the programme. This equates to approximately 80 therapy posts.

There are almost 60 geographically based multidisciplinary teams established as part of the reconfigured service model under this programme. It is hoped that a further 30 teams will be reconfigured this year, bringing the overall total to approximately 90 teams by the end of 2014. These figures reflect all children's disability teams that provide early intervention services to children from birth to aged 18. The transition to this new model is being implemented on a phased basis and, what is important, it includes consultation and engagement with stakeholders such as service users and their families.

Deputy Colm Keaveney: Information on Colm Keaveney Zoom on Colm Keaveney I thank the Minister of State for her response. I draw her attention to the comments made in response to the previous question with respect to cuts in disability. While I acknowledge a transformation is taking place within the sector, the object of the question concerns the issue of the 15,000 people on waiting lists for speech and language therapy. In Dublin alone there are 10,000 citizens waiting for speech and language therapy, and in the HSE South administrative area there are 3,171 people on the waiting list. We are moving from an existing system to a projected early intervention team, EIT, system, but we still have a crisis, particularly when it comes to occupational therapies. In the HSE Dublin Mid-Leinster and Dublin North-East administrative areas, 4,000 children await occupational therapy. In the two Dublin administrative regions, 10,000 people await physiotherapy as we speak. How does the Minister of State intend to tackle these chronic waiting lists? This is a grave concern. We are in a process of transition. Obviously, what we are leaving behind us is not addressing the situation while we get to the point where EITs are up and running and fully resourced.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt I will call the Deputy again.

Deputy Kathleen Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch I agree with the Deputy. What we inherited was quite significant despite a significant amount of money being spent annually. It became clear, on looking at the situation when we entered Government, that what was in place was not working and that we had to reconfigure the entire service. That is what we are in the process of doing. We have been extraordinarily lucky in getting someone like Pat Healy to come in and drive that change. He has experience far beyond anyone I know in terms of disability. I know him from his work in the south. What we are doing is ensuring children, despite the fact they may not be attached to a particular service, have access to community-based early intervention teams. It is a process of building those teams, and that is what we are doing. We have managed to get €4 million in funding this year, in very tight circumstances, to ensure that service is put in place. It will take a little more time, perhaps another year or two, but at that point I believe we will have a better service. I believe also that we must get away from the concept of having to have a diagnosis before one gets a service.

Deputy Colm Keaveney: Information on Colm Keaveney Zoom on Colm Keaveney The figures for the past 12, 24 or 36 months are not too far from the original figures I had confirmed. I am concerned the Minister of State's language around this issue does not engender confidence in families who are gravely concerned that they must wait a significant length of time with respect to children who are nearly in mainstream education at this stage, with no diagnosis. The Minister of State is so optimistic about the future in terms of transformation, yet while she stood here yesterday and spoke about a unit in University College Hospital Galway, part of the roof was blowing off that building. She is transferring vulnerable service users into an inappropriate unit at UCHG where there are three showers for 40 unwell service users. Is that the type of transformation she is talking about? Is she talking about the transformation where part of the roof is blown off UCHG while the Minister stood here yesterday and robustly defended a decision-----

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Thank you, Deputy.

Deputy Colm Keaveney: Information on Colm Keaveney Zoom on Colm Keaveney -----to shut down facilities in St. Brigid's Hospital in Ballinasloe and transfer them to UCHG where part of the roof was ripped off in the storm yesterday evening? That was her robust plan.

Deputy Kathleen Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch I do not know how we have strayed into this area because there is another question tabled on mental health. Obviously, the Deputy felt the need to raise it earlier.


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