A PROGRESS report on the backlog in the public school health screening programme in South Galway will be requested by a local county councillor at a forthcoming Health Service Executive (HSE) briefing for public representatives.
Councillor Mary Hoade has confirmed she hadn’t yet received a comprehensive report on HSE measures to address deficiencies in the service, despite raising this issue at a recent HSE West Forum meeting.
Speaking to The Clare Champion this week, Councillor Hoade said she expected the HSE would provide an up-to-date report on this issue at a briefing for councillors and Oireachtas members on July 20 next in Merlin Park, Galway.
The HSE confirmed recently that national schools in South Galway, including the Gort area, have experiencing backlogs in the public school health-screening programme.
However, the regional health authority declined to outline the precise extent of the delays experienced by some schools in the Gort area due to chronic staff shortages.
Members of the HSE West Forum were told at a recent meeting that Gort and Tuam areas had no designated school screening service at present and every effort is being made to provide a “level of service” when nursing staff are available.
School health screening including tests for vision, enuresis and head lice management is ongoing throughout Galway. However, the HSE has acknowledged backlogs exist in the Gort, Tuam and Ballinasloe areas.
Councillor Mary Hoade asked the HSE at the forum meeting if it could confirm if it is providing all health-screening services to primary schools in Galway at present and, if not, how many schools have no services.
She wondered how many schools in the Gort area are being left without a proper service and how far behind schools are with standard targets.
Regional director of operations, John Hennessy stated a briefing could be provided with the Department of Public Health in Galway to deal with public service targets in this area.
Mr Hennessy stressed the HSE is trying to implement a more efficient model to deal with staffing resources to improve its delivery on actual vaccination and other screening targets in the county.
He pledged to provide further information to Councillor Hoade after the meeting to assure her this matter is being addressed.
Councillor Hoade said she understood the deficits exist due to staff vacancies, which are due to be filled. The Fianna Fáil councillor hoped this issue would be addressed before national schools reopen next September to ensure children are not adversely affected by inordinate delays for health screening.
She added it is important that all vacancies would be filled by permanent staff, who would be committed to dealing with any remaining backlogs.
Meanwhile, the Gort Family and Community Resource Centre has appealed for public support to facilitate the reopening of the local school dental surgery.
The centre has issued an appeal to complete some light maintenance work to ensure the surgery reopens.
The assistance of anyone in the building trade or expertise in the field of construction or engineering would be greatly appreciated.
It is vital local children have access to this service and the centre hopes, with the help of the public it can make this possible.
All interested volunteers are invited to an open meeting at the Gort Family and Community Resource Centre, Church Street on Thursday, July 12 at 6.30pm to find out more information. Volunteers can call the centre on 091 630902.