Axing Plan For 24-Hour Care ‘Risks Another Monageer’
A CHARITY has warned the HSE it risks another tragedy like the deaths of four members of one family in Monageer, Co Wexford, after it shelved plans for a round-the-clock care service for vulnerable children.
Barnardos made the claim yesterday after the Irish Independent revealed the HSE was axing its plans for a 24-hour emergency care service.
The HSE has now said it will provide ad hoc cover.
“This is the worst possible form of cost savings as it is hitting the most vulnerable members of our community,” said Barnardos director of advocacy Norah Gibbons.
“Failure to provide this service could result in children being placed in extremely dangerous situations.
“If we are serious about protecting children, we need a properly resourced 24-hour professional social care service.
“That service needs to include an early response mechanism when concerns are raised, and a crisis response to emergency situations as they arise.
“We do not want to see another Monageer,” she said, referring to the tragedy in which Adrian Dunne killed his wife Kiara and two daughters, aged 5 and 3, in April 2007 before killing himself.
“Nor do we want to see innocent children sleeping in A&E departments or police stations, as a 15-year-old boy recently did, because there is no care plan in place for troubled youngsters outside of normal working hours.”
She pointed out that the Minister for Children, Barry Andrews, himself acknowledged the need to address the lack of out-of-hours care last week.
The HSE blamed the “current economic climate” for abandoning the plans, claiming there was a need for “cost containment”.
The move came less than a month after the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors revealed a teenager had spent the night on a camp bed in a Cork station because social workers could not be contacted on emergency phone numbers.
The HSE said yesterday it was turning its focus towards providing emergency placements for children out of hours. It said it was also taking steps to ensure children were looked after in a situation where a parent was taken ill.
An HSE spokesperson said that under the Childcare Act, gardai had powers to remove a child in an emergency.
He added that the new proposals would be brought before the department in September.