Fianna Fáil TD for Roscommon/Galway Eugene Murphy has welcomed the fact that the Department of Health has approved a replacement post for a child psychologist for County Roscommon and a panel is now in place.
Deputy Murphy has been working on this issue over the past month and had tabled parliamentary questions.
“The need to fast track the appointment of a child psychologist for County Roscommon is something which I have been highlighting for the past number of months. Indeed it was one of the main points which I raised with Minister David Stanton during a recent Oireachtas briefing particularly in light of the 36 Syrian children who will be seeking refuge in Ballaghaderreen in the coming weeks. The immediate appointment is also necessary for the children from County Roscommon who have been left languishing on an ever growing waiting list since last Summer. I have tabled parliamentary questions on this appointment and had this issue listed for Topical Issues and I understand in recent days that the Department of Health has approved the replacement post and a panel is now in place. It seems all the political pressure has borne some fruit but I want to stress that it is vital that this vacancy is treated as a priority and filled as soon as possible,” said Deputy Murphy.
“Many of the Syrian children coming to Ballaghaderreen will undoubtedly have suffered untold trauma so it is vital that this post is in place before the refugees arrive in Ballaghaderreen in the coming weeks. 36 children will be included in the group of 82 Syrians – that figure includes 13 children under the age of four, 19 children in in the five to 12 age category and 4 children over the age of thirteen.
“My understanding is that there is a child psychologist covering the South of the county but there is currently no child psychologist covering the remainder of the county and the north of the county. I understand that the child psychologist covering North Roscommon is on sick leave and the post has been vacant since last Summer so there are already a lot of Roscommon children on that waiting list and unable to access child psychology services.
“I am dealing with a case of a little six-year-old boy who was referred by his GP to the psychology service in Roscommon but after several weeks of phone calls, his parents finally received a return call informing them that the psychologist looking after school-aged children was on sick leave since March and that a locum would not be found for the post. Officials could not say when the service would become available again, but they indicated that no children had been assessed since March and that the waiting list would be significant.
“The school decided they would use the one assessment they are allocated each year to secure services for this child. His school spent several weeks trying to find out when the assessment would take place, only to hear a few days before the Christmas break that they would not be offering any assessments to the schools as the psychologist is still on sick leave and no arrangements are being made for the post. This family from County Roscommon are not asking for preferential treatment or to skip the queue; they just want to see their son have access to the services they contribute towards and are supposed to be available in the public health care system.
“As you know a number of Syrian children will also be arriving in the county in the coming weeks and these unfortunate children have already suffered untold heartache and witnessed such brutality and I don’t want to see a situation whereby they will be added to a very long waiting list to see a child psychologist. It is vital that the Minister for Health now fast tracks this vacancy and treats the appointment of child psychologist for County Roscommon as a priority and indeed provide extra psychologists if necessary. The Syrian children will undoubtedly require Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services so we need to ensure that any child psychology teams will be sufficiently resourced to deal with extra children,” concluded Deputy Murphy.