Dáil debates

Wednesday, 15 June 2005

Adjournment Debate.

Hospital Services.

9:00 pm

Photo of Mary UptonMary Upton (Dublin South Central, Labour)
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I thank the Ceann Comhairle for providing me with this opportunity to raise this matter on the Adjournment. This is a case of a ten-year old girl who has been a patient in Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin, since she was approximately 11 months old. She has been assessed by a number of different psychologists, both clinical and educational, and by a consultant neurologist. Her parents are completely frustrated that she does not receive treatment but only a series of assessments. Their understanding was that their daughter would be given some professional treatment. However, the child was given a number of referrals which turned out to be mere assessments. The only substantive treatment offered was that her mother was given some exercises to carry out with her daughter. The child's mother was most co-operative and happy to do the exercises but felt that they were totally inadequate by themselves and in no way substituted for full professional intervention and treatment.

According to her parents, the main concern is that the child does not receive treatment. Following an assessment by an occupational therapist at Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children, the parents were advised that there was little chance of their daughter receiving other than an assessment because no other occupational therapist was available at the hospital. Later, they were informed that their daughter might get treatment in the community. They were also told that a referral was sent to the St. John of God services. They were unaware of this arrangement and did not receive correspondence from the St. John of God services to confirm that their daughter was on any of their waiting lists.

Their frustration with this toing and froing was underpinned by the fact that they were told in May 2003 that their daughter's case had been discussed by the child psychiatry department in St. James's Hospital and the head of occupation therapy in Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children. Consequently, their understanding was that their daughter was third in line for occupational therapy in Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children and would be seen within months. Nothing has happened and their daughter is without any intervention apart from assessments.

I understand that the girl is now on another waiting list for assessment, this time with a different consultant paediatrician with a special interest in disabilities. The initial appointment is not until 1 December 2005 and this girl must wait a great deal longer for treatment. It is imperative that this child receives appropriate treatment rather than more assessments. It is not acceptable that the treatment recommended by a number of professionals is not available and that the parents of this ten year old girl are fobbed off indefinitely. For each day, week or month she is without the appropriate treatment, she is being further disadvantaged and excluded and is dropping further behind in school.

I ask the Minister to address this problem and put in place the facilities and systems needed. The girl has a number of learning difficulties. She needs occupational therapy as well as additional resource teaching, for example. She has not received any adequate services in her ten years and, as one can imagine, this is not acceptable for this girl's welfare and it is very frustrating for her parents. I would be grateful for the assistance of the Minister on behalf of this girl.

Photo of Seán PowerSeán Power (Minister of State, Department of Health and Children; Kildare South, Fianna Fail)
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I thank Deputy Upton for raising this matter on the Adjournment. I am responding on behalf of my colleague, the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Harney. Under the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive has responsibility to manage and deliver or arrange to be delivered on its behalf health and personal social services. Service at Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin, are provided under an arrangement with the executive.

In regard to the specific issue raised by the Deputy, the Department is advised that the person concerned was referred to the occupational therapy service by one of the hospital's consultant paediatricians. The patient's family was offered occupational therapy for the child on an outpatient basis in September 2004 and treatment commenced the same month.

Following her assessment sessions, it was recommended and agreed that the child be referred for ongoing multidisciplinary intervention in the community. She was referred to the St. John of God services in Inchicore. The referral was sent by the hospital to St. John of God services in December 2004. In May 2005, St. John of God services notified the hospital that it was not in a position to meet this request but that if the consultant wished to refer the child for full-time day services, this could be examined. It is understood the matter was due for discussion at the St. John of God admissions committee meeting on 13 June.

Pending the outcome of the meeting, Our Lady's Hospital will request the relevant area medical officer to investigate an alternative community-based occupational therapy service to meet the child's needs. It is the opinion of the health care professionals at the hospital that her needs would best be met in a community based multidisciplinary occupational therapy service rather than in an acute setting.

The Department has asked the parliamentary affairs division of the health service executive to examine the issues involved in the hospital care and community care of this patient and to provide and up date to the Deputy at the earliest possible date. I take on board what Deputy Upton has said and appreciate the urgency of the matter. It is of no benefit to the child if this matter is left hanging. Action is necessary. I will make further inquiries in the coming days and will come back to the Deputy with further information.