Thursday 23 January 2020

When will the HSE stop letting down vulnerable children?

Investigations into the HSE's handling of issues relating to children in crisis make for depressing reading. Too often children are let down, at times with dangerous consequences. The saddest part is that many of the same failings arise again and again.

So far most of these relate to children in care or families known to social services. Poor practice, failure to intervene on time, lack of communication between staff and agencies as well as waiting lists are recurring themes.

The report of an investigation by Ombudsman for Children Emily Logan into the care of a young girl who alleged she had been violently raped delves into an area which rarely receives attention. The girl's understandably traumatised mother followed the best advice and went to the gardai and the health service for support.

But the Health Service Executive failed to provide her with the therapy she needed. It all related back to the refusal of the girl to undergo an assessment interview on her own without her mother. The HSE's rules state the girl must be on her own.

The HSE took two months to locate a female doctor with the necessary expertise to examine the girl. The HSE said the child's mother was difficult.

But as Ms Logan points out it is one of the most shocking ordeals a parent can face.

The Ombudsman expresses hope that the formation of the Child and Family Agency due in January will herald a new era. Many others are less confident.

Irish Independent

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