'This is only the start' – Kilkenny protesters call for better health services for children

'This is only the start' – Kilkenny protesters call for better health services for children

Local parents marched through the streets of Kilkenny City this morning to highlight their ongoing grievances with the Irish health service and the Government.

The event was part of a series of ‘Enough is Enough’ protests which took place around the country over problems such as long waiting lists, interventions, and a lack of services for children and families with additional needs. Around 40 people turned out to make their voices’ heard.

The demonstration began at 10am at the HSE offices at Lacken. It followed a route through town and ended at HSE Local Health Office at James' Green, where a silent demonstration took place.

Organiser Linda Comerford said she was happy with the turnout.

“This was not a one-day thing; this is the very start of this campaign,” she told the Kilkenny People.

“One of the organisers is going to the Dail next week, and we are organising a Dublin march, where all the counties will go to Dublin. There will be more local events as well.

“Until children across Ireland are treated fairly, and until the get the services they need. Our children deserve it.

“We are not tolerating the lack of services from the HSE any more. We are not tolerating our Government turning a deaf ear any more. There was a lot of anger among parents today.”

Meanwhile, the HSE has issued a statement in response to the protest marches, acknowledging the frustrations of those parents involved.

It said it was committed to having the best possible services in place from within available resources.

“We want to assure the public that continued attempts are being made to provide a better and more timely service to those we serve in counties Carlow, Kilkenny, South Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford,” said the statement.

The HSE is rolling out the ‘Progressing Disability Services for Children and Young People Programme (PDS)’ programme. This involves a  reconfiguration of all HSE and HSE funded children’s disability services into geographically-based Children’s Disability Network Teams (Early-Intervention and School-aged or 0-18 Teams).

This programme aims to achieve a national, equitable approach in service provision for all children based on their individual need and regardless of their disability, where they live or where they go to school.

Based on the recommendations of the Report of the National Reference Group on Multidisciplinary Services for Children aged 5-18 Years (2009), the intention is to roll out an integrated care model that will allow children, whatever the nature of their disability, to be seen as locally to their home and school as possible; at primary care level when their needs can be met there and by a network specialist interdisciplinary team if their needs are more complex.

The primary and network teams will be supported as appropriate by specialist support services with a high level of expertise in particular fields.

Since 2014, the roll out of the "Progressing Disability Services for Children and Young People (0-18s)" Programme has entailed targeted investment of €14 million nationwide and the provision of 275 additional therapy staff, to increase services for children with disabilities.