Fine Gael Senator and Chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Autism, Micheál Carrigy, is calling on the HSE to urgently fill staff vacancies in autism services across the country to help alleviate waiting lists.
Senator Carrigy said, “The HSE must expedite hiring for autism services. Staff are needed across all Disciplines namely Speech and Language therapy, Occupational therapy, Physiotherapy and Psychology.
“We also have significant shortages across the country in the various Children’s Disability Network Teams.
“The vision for children’s disability services under the new Progressing Disability Services programme states ‘easy access to the services children need’. In order to make this happen, we must have the relevant professional staff in place.
“The Children’s Disability Network Team 8 Longford currently has staffing levels far short of what is needed provide basic services. We have a number of posts to be filled, including in the areas of psychology, speech and language, occupational therapy and physiotherapy. We urgently need to fill these posts to help deal with the many children on waiting lists.
“The funding from Government is in place; money is not the issue. We now want to see urgency from the HSE in relation to filling these posts with staff to deliver much needed services.
“In the new Oireachtas term I plan to invite the HSE to the Committee to detail the staffing numbers across all disability network teams in the country. It is important we know exactly where the gaps are so that these posts can be filled urgently.
“We also must plan for the future. I want assurances from the HSE that they are planning ahead. For example have they engaged with the Department of Further and Higher Education to ensure we have sufficient college courses available?
“I look forward to the next meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Autism in September. We will hear from parents’ groups from Cork, Dublin and Cavan, along with a new umbrella group, the Special Needs Schools and Classes Parents Group.
“I want the Oireachtas Committee on Autism to be a platform for parents’ voices. We need to hear about the challenges for people with autism and their families, and we will work together for constructive solutions.”