Seanad debates

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters

Audiology Services Provision

10:30 am

Photo of Maura HopkinsMaura Hopkins (Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I raise a matter I have raised on a number of previous occasions, namely, the number of children affected by failings in the audiology service across counties Roscommon and Mayo. As I am sure the Minister of State is aware, 49 families received an apology from the HSE on 7 June 2018, while a further 57 received an apology earlier this year for failings in audiology services. The failings have had a significant impact on the children affected and their families.Since June of last year, I have been working with many of these families and it has been a difficult year because we have not seen adequate evidence of the HSE providing an apology and putting in place adequate supports for these children. We faced issues about access, particularly to educational supports because many of the challenges that these children face have manifested themselves within the education system, especially in special educational hours, assistive technology, access to domiciliary care allowance and medical cards, and a long-term pathway for these children to transition along. We must ensure that these children, like others, achieve their full potential.

Over the past year, one would think that these families were asking for something to which they are not entitled. They have been wronged by this State and we need to ensure that proper supports are put in place for these children. I have been working with the chief health officer in area 2, Mr. Tony Canavan. At that time, I asked questions of the HSE, as part of the Department of Health, and the Departments of Education and Skills and Employment Affairs and Social Protection. We have had many meetings but the most recent was in March and we have not had any follow-up since on the many concerns we still have.

These children and their families do not want to have to access these supports or battle for every support they need. Many of them have been assessed by relevant professionals who have recommended specific forms of support, particularly within the context of the education system. I want to know what the Government and HSE are going to do to support these children properly. We are, at this stage, beyond platitudes. We want action. What supports will be put in place? We know that each child has different needs but we want to ensure that their needs will be supported for the good of their education and health.


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