Inadequate resources for new HSE disability services

New HSE disability services ‘roadmap’: Fórsa says resources and staffing inadequate

Union criticises failure to engage with stakeholders and issues non-cooperation instruction to members

Fórsa trade union, which represents health and social care professionals working in children’s disability network teams (CDNTs) has instructed its members not to cooperate with the new HSE Roadmap for Service Improvement 2023 – 2026, Disability Services for Children and Young People.

The union said that while the development of the roadmap is welcome, the resources available for its implementation are inadequate.

The roadmap document was launched yesterday (Tuesday 24th) by Ministers Roderic O’Gorman and Anne Rabbitte. The roadmap is described as “a targeted service improvement programme to achieve a quality, accessible, equitable and timely service” for all children with complex needs and their families.

Fórsa national secretary Linda Kelly said: “The roadmap sets out very progressive objectives for children’s disability services that is inclusive and positive.

“However, the simple fact is that most teams do not currently have the staff to be able to deliver what is envisaged in this roadmap. Fórsa has several very serious concerns about some elements of the roadmap, not least due to the ongoing and significant recruitment and retention challenges within CDNTs.

“The experience and knowledge of frontline staff working in CDNTs should not be an afterthought to this process of service improvement. They must be central to delivering solutions to the range of problems within disability services.

“Our members, in addition to service users, parents, families and relevant professional bodies have all been excluded from the development of this roadmap. This is despite repeated efforts to have engagement and consultation by Fórsa and other stakeholder groups,” she said.

Ms Kelly said the union had continued to seek to engage with the employer since a meeting at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) in June, but that no further consultation had taken place despite repeated efforts.

She added: “Until such time as these concerns are addressed through meaningful engagement and consultation, Fórsa members in CDNTs have been instructed not to participate in any activity related to the roadmap.”

Parents’ advocacy group, FUSS Ireland (Families Unite for Services and Support) welcomed the launch of the PDS roadmap, and said its members are eager to read the details. However, the group said it was “concerned and saddened” at the lack of stakeholder involvement, in addition to concern about the increased risk of privatisation of disability services.