Thursday, 25 February 2021
Topical Issue Debate
I agree with Deputy Stanley in respect of contracts. It is often a fear that short-term contracts are intended only to bridge the gap for six or 12 months. The HSE will this year recruit approximately 16,000 people throughout the sector, including 100 therapist posts coming to my Department. They are all full-time, permanent positions that will be spread across all nine CHOs. There also will be recruitment to primary care, which also provides occupational and speech and language therapists. Furthermore, in the school inclusions model, there is a pilot for two CHOs that is yet to be announced, where there will be a further 100 therapist posts to focus specifically on the likes of speech and language therapy. There will, therefore, be a real bolstering of supports. All the positions to which I refer are full-time, permanent positions.
As the Deputy is aware, when the HSE is involved it is a long and drawn-out process but I hope matters can be expedited. Many people have returned home and have expressed an interest to CORU. I would like CORU to turn around their applications swiftly in respect of the vacancies that exist in order that we can capture the talent that has returned and ensure that those people will work at home and locally, and that the investment that was put in by their families through the years will be rewarded by having them working for us, because we have the best of talent. In fairness to the CHO that has provided assessments of needs in the Deputy's area for four months, it has worked tirelessly. Based on the figures I outlined earlier, it must be complimented. When the backlog is cleared, more therapists will be available and that will be complemented by recruitment. As a result, I hope I will not have to appear before the House on the matter for a few months to come.