Wednesday 15 August 2018

St Joseph's group confront Minister

Simon McCafferty, Eamonn Tierney and Gerry McDonald
Simon McCafferty, Eamonn Tierney and Gerry McDonald

John Manning

The families of those attending St Joseph's Intellectual Disability Services in Portrane have challenged a Minister of State at the Depatment of Health, to respond to their call to recruit social care staff to address 'critical staff shortages' in nursing at the service.

Last month, The Fingal Independent reported Eamonn Tierney who chairs the St Joseph's Association, a group of parents and friends of services users said they have been pushing this issue now for two years 'with little or no progress'.

Mr Tierney said he was 'aware of the efforts that the service and the HSE have been making to recruit nurses for St Joseph's but the situation remains the same and remains critical'.

The group have held meetings with senior officials in the HSE on the issue as well as Minister of State, Finian McGrath TD over the last year, but keep getting the same reply that 'all measures are being taken to recruit but without success'.

They recently wrote to the minister on the issue again and was disappointed with his response. which simply said that he understood the group were in touch with a senior official in the HSE on the issue.

Now Mr Tierney and the group of concerned parents he represents has challenged Minister McGrath to respond directly to their call to recruit social care workers to the vacant nursing posts at the Portrane service.

Mr Tierney said there is a shortfall of between 55 and 70 nurses at the facility, with staffing at a level about 25% below where it should be.

'Critical staff shortages' at the service are acknowledged by the HSE and Mr Tierney acknowledges the efforts that have been undergone to recruit nurses to the service but the fact remains that little has changed, after a two-year campaign by Mr Tierney and other affected parents.

Mr Tierney said that his association has now put a proposal on the table, calling on the HSE and the service to recruit social care staff to fill the positions. He said there were 'lots of qualified people' in that area without jobs which could be utilised in St Joseph's.

The problem in recruiting nurses for the service was outlined by the HSE last year when it responded to a query from local TD, Deputy Alan Farrell who then called for staff shortages at St Joseph's to be 'addressed urgently'.

Deputy Farrell explained at that time: 'The HSE have informed me that the staff shortages have largely resulted from basic nurse grades being promoted to senior posts, and this has caused a number of vacancies at basic grade level. However, from the information I have received, the HSE have attempted to fill these vaccines but have not successful done so as of yet. I do not believe the situation as it currently stands can be accepted.'

According to Mr Tierney, that situation has not changed and that difficult in recruiting nurses to the service remains. He said the urgency of addressing the staff shortages at St Joseph's is even greater now.

Fingal Independent