Health Centre controversy: ‘16 staff approved for School Age Team’

Naughten: ‘School  Age Team – and funding – not in doubt’

Minister Denis Naughten, right, has announced  that the recruitment of 16 staff for a ‘School Age Team’ in the Roscommon area has been approved and is now proceeding.

Minister Naughten has confirmed that there is currently no clarity or certainty regarding where the School Age Team will be located, but says new appointments have been approved and that “contrary to some public comments,” funding is not an issue.

His comments follow last week’s Roscommon People story in which we revealed that the HSE has abandoned plans to provide key health services for children in one new ‘super-location’ in Roscommon Town – despite spending 16 months’ working on the project.

Last week, Fianna Fail TD Eugene Murphy said it is “outrageous” that failure to proceed with the lease of a building could jeopardise services for children with disabilities. Deputy Murphy pledged to raise the matter with Health Minister Simon Harris.

On Wednesday afternoon Minister Naughten moved to address the growing controversy. He said: “I am pleased to confirm that the School Age Team for County Roscommon is not in doubt, contrary to some public comments on the issue.

“I have received confirmation from the HSE that the recruitment of 16 staff for the facility is at the final stages and funding for the new posts is not an issue.

“The only outstanding matter to be resolved,” continued Minister Naughten,  “is where the School Age Team is to be located. The physical accommodation of the Team is the subject of ongoing discussions. 

“A number of approaches have been made to landlords in Roscommon town and a number of potential properties are currently being looked at. I have been given a commitment that a suitable location will be found for the 16 staff without any further delay and funding is not an issue,” said Minister Naughten.

Defending his own record on the issue of campaigning for improved health facilities for children, Minister Naughten said: “I have continually pressed for the improvement of health services locally and particularly for children.

“As a result, we’ve seen the prioritisation of the appointment of a child psychologist for Co. Roscommon. Following my intervention the Department of Health approved the appointment and a basic grade psychology panel is now in place.

“In addition, we have now secured a change in the law to ensure that all children in receipt of the Domiciliary Care Allowance receive a medical card automatically.”