Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said the current situation with regard to vacant Public Health Nursing positions which are unfilled in South Tipperary Local Health Offices (LHO) is creating a life threatening absence of services. Deputy McGrath was speaking after he ascertained that no Public Health Nurse (PHN) position has been filled in South Tipperary since 2011 despite the fact that some PHN’s have retired or resigned in that period, leaving the positions unfilled:
“I am aware that there are currently up to six vacant PHN positions that remain unfilled in South Tipperary. Included in these vacancies is the specialist post of Traveller Public Health Nurse. This post has specialist responsibility in relation to health promotion, health education, child development, and in particular, child safety awareness. The town of Killenaule and its surrounding area has also lost the services of a PHN and now there are deep concerns around the same positions in Carrick-on-Suir.
I am also aware that that although a business case for the filling of these vital community positions has been made, that no approval or sanctioning of funds to resource them has occurred since 2011. This is nothing short of outrageous. The services of a PHN are essential in sourcing Home Help, Home Care Package, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, and Dietetics services, along with our essential Nursing Duties and surveillance calls to the vulnerable elderly who live alone in isolated rural areas. All these activities are now in jeopardy in South Tipperary due to the unwillingness of the HSE to release funds.
There are very serious questions to be answered here because in that same period since 2011 a number of these same positions were filled for the North Tipperary/Limerick LHO. The fact is that the longer this scandalous situation is allowed to continue the more likely it is that an inequality in service for South Tipperary will become embedded.
I will be demanding an immediate meeting with the HSE Operations Manager for South Tipperary to discuss this urgent matter with a view to moving toward the sanctioning or release of funds to fully resource these vital roles,” Concluded Deputy McGrath.