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Health Service Staff

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 5 October 2010

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Ceisteanna (42)

Joe Costello

Ceist:

37 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children her policy on the replacement of speech therapists in the context of the moratorium on recruitment; if her attention has been drawn to the gaps in the service resulting from the availability of such a service both in the community and in hospitals in some parts of the country; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34672/10]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Health and Children)

There has been a growing demand for, and investment in, speech therapy services over the last number of years. A particular priority for my Department and the Department of Education and Skills in recent years has been the expansion of the supply of therapy graduates. The Government has invested heavily in the education and training of such personnel in order to secure a good supply of graduates to provide for the healthcare needs of the population into the future. As a result, the numbers employed in speech and language therapy has grown significantly, from 282 whole time equivalents employed in December 1997 rising to 838 whole time equivalents in July 2010, which represents an increase of 197%.

With regard to the continued recruitment of speech therapists, my Department has written to the Health Service Executive setting out the overall approved employment control ceiling for 2010. As part of this approval, written confirmation has been provided to the HSE that the general moratorium on recruitment, promotion and the payment of acting up allowances does not apply to specific designated grades. Delegated sanction has been given to the HSE for the creation and filling of frontline posts, including speech and language therapy posts. The approval indicated that vacancies in existing posts in these grades may continue to be filled. New posts may also be created in these grades, up to a specified limit, provided that the HSE is satisfied in each case that there is no scope to redeploy an equivalent post from the hospital sector to the primary and community care sector. This moratorium exemption provides for an increase in the number of speech and language therapy posts, in line with Government policy, in order to meet the requirements of integrated care delivery and primary care needs particularly in respect of children at risk, the elderly and those with disabilities.

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