Written answers

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Department of Health

Health Service Staff

9:00 pm

Photo of Seán FlemingSeán Fleming (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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Question 78: To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if the public sector retirement scheme will affect front line child protection services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8097/12]

Photo of Aengus Ó SnodaighAengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)
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Question 100: To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of social workers who retired during this month or who are due to retire this month; the Health Service Executive areas in which they are based; her plans to replace these employees that are retiring; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8054/12]

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Children; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 78 and 100 together.

The latest information from the HSE indicates that approximately 45 social workers in the Children and Family Services have applied for early retirement. The distribution of this number geographically is as follows:

- 15 from HSE Dublin Mid Leinster;

- 8 from HSE Dublin North East;

- 13 from HSE South; and

- 9 from HSE West.

This figure is, of course, subject to change between now and the end of February. While the number due to retire is relatively low in the overall context it will, nonetheless, require a considered management response by the HSE. In this context, the National Director of Children and Families Services, Gordon Jeyes, will apply his discretion over the course of the year to the filling of vacancies, subject to this not compromising the achievement of employment targets and subject to services being provided within available resources.

I am very much aware of the financial and service challenges facing the HSE in 2012. This is the case across all care groups. The challenges are such as to require acceleration of the reform programme. This process of reform is a central element of the wider programme of reform for child and family services including the establishment of a new and dedicated Children and Family Support Agency to which the Government is fully committed.

My Department will be working very closely with the HSE throughout the year to ensure that the priorities set out in the HSE National Service Plan are implemented where they relate to children and family services. We have set an ambitious programme of work, one which is designed to significantly strengthen the policy, legislative and practice framework. Our shared goal is the delivery of appropriate, effective and consistent services, notwithstanding the very challenging and demanding circumstances in which these services are delivered.

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