Sunday 18 August 2019

Tusla places 72 children a year in hospital for their safety

  

(stock photo)
(stock photo)
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Up to 72 children with no medical condition are being placed in hospital wards every year because there is nowhere suitable to put them.

Nurses called for an end to the practice of moving children into hospitals for safety reasons and said there was a duty on Tusla to have plans in place to deal with these emergencies.

Jarlath Keady, who works as a nurse in Galway, said three children who were in need of emergency protection had to be placed in one hospital in the space of just six months.

One child was in the hospital for 48 hours, he told the annual conference of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) in Trim.

"Tusla's response is that these are emergencies. But I cannot accept that there would be no forward planning," he told delegates.

In the case of the child who was in hospital for 48 hours, Tusla eventually intervened and moved them to another part of the country, he added.

Delegates at the conference passed a motion acknowledging the challenges of providing emergency places - but they called on Tusla to recognise the negative impact on youngsters of ending up in a hospital ward.

A spokeswoman for Tusla said some 72 children had to be put in a hospital as a place of safety annually.

In emergency and crisis situations, An Garda Síochána has the power, under section 12 of the Child Care Act 1991, to remove a child from a situation for his or her safety and welfare.

When Tusla is contacted in relation to Section 12s, Tusla takes immediate action to find an appropriate placement for the child or young person - usually within a number of hours.

"There are occasions when a child or young person may be placed in a hospital as a place of safety, while a placement is being sourced.

"These placements can be as a result of various issues, including alcohol misuse or substance misuse.

"The agency is aware that this is not ideal and is continuously working towards alternative options; however, the primary focus in these crisis situations is to make the child or young person as safe as possible and to source a placement that is suitable to cater for their needs."

Irish Independent

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