While former Minister of State at the Department of Health and Labour TD Róisín Shortall accepts that there was no political interference in this case, she has called for an end to “potential cronyism or secret decision-making around the spending of public money”.
“All of those decisions should be taken in an open and transparent manner,” she said this morning. “Nobody is denying there was a need for services in north Dublin. There were long waiting lists and it is only right and proper that necessary staff should be provided. But there are long waiting lists in other areas and you have to ask why it is that the money announced has not been spent.”
Minister Reilly announced the €3 million in extra funding for autism services in January 2012. So far, just 10 per cent of that money has been spent. According to Freedom of Information documents requested and obtained by the Irish Times, none of the €1 million allocated for 2012 was used last year.
And yet it was this time last year the HSE moved the only two Child & Adolescent Mental Health service clinics from the north side of Dublin and put them in a building in Cherry Orchard Hospital.
These clinics are where schools and family Gps refer children for assessment for Autism spectrum and provide skill groups and support groups for parents. They link in with the schools in areas and other service provider but were moved to the other side of the city.
Which results in parents trying to juggle 2 buses cross the city with a child who often arrives too stressed or worn out to take part in the assessment process. Often appointments are missed due to child care issues when there are other children and it results in a whole day off school being needed to attend appointments. While it is a brand new building there is nothing on the site for parents who have to sit in reception for anything from 30 to 90mins and wait. There is no where to even go for a cup of tea or coffee, all you can do is sit and try recover from traveling over and gird yourself for the return journey, which can be far from pleasant given that a handful of stops after the hospital is CloverHill Prison.
Staff are not being replaced in those services and when they are eventually there is a back log, esp when it comes to speech and language specialists. The waiting lists are too long and children and families are left in limbo and unable access services needed so it is deplorable that this money was not spent.
All of the above has impacted badly on our family as my daughter was accepted for assessment while in 6th class and the on going process is still not completed despite her finishing 1st year in secondary school. The move, the lack of replacement staff and cases getting dropped in the shuffle the move, have all played it’s part in dragging out the assessment.
Needless to day the lack of transparency and the funding not being spent when there is a desperate need has me livid. The campaign to return both the Blanchardstown and Castleknock CAMHS to the communities they serve is on going with both the parents and staff putting pressure on the powers that be in the HSE.
While I would like to think that sense would prevail there seems to be little of that or consideration present in the government and HSE decision making process.