Independent review likely into HSE disability services in NW

The Minister of State with responsibility for those with disabilities says she would like to see an independent review into the HSE in the north west region.

It’s after senior staff from the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) questioned the HSE’s fitness to provide services for people with disabilities in the region, known as Community Health Organisation 1, which covers Donegal, Sligo/Leitrim/West Cavan, and Cavan/Monaghan.

These latest concerns have arisen after a resident in a centre was found on a number of occasions viewing online material involving child sexual exploitation.

It led the outgoing CEO of HIQA, Phelim Quinn, to tell HSE chief executive Paul Reid that he was ‘seriously concerned’ about the effectiveness of surveillance, identification and management of adult and child safeguarding concerns in the area.

In response, HSE CHO 1 said that, firstly, it was important to state that HIQA had  informed the HSE that there were no current safeguarding concerns arising from its  unannounced inspections, completed in January, across all Disability designated centres in Donegal.

The HSE expects, what it described as ‘an aggregate report’ on these inspections in the coming week from HIQA.

The HSE confirmed that a written response was provided to HIQA on 16th December 2021 following immediate verbal engagements on receipt of a letter from HIQA on 10th December 2021.

The correspondence acknowledged a shared concern for HIQA and the HSE regarding governance and safeguarding, including assessment of the need for and type of enhanced national oversight external to CHO1.

It said this is ‘building on significant improvement initiatives’ already taking place where HIQA also acknowledged progress in that same correspondence to the HSE.

The HSE also said immediate actions took place between national HSE and CHO1 in order to provide assurance, as requested by HIQA, on any immediate safeguarding concerns.

In addition, further engagements have taken place between HIQA and the HSE on its separate interventions where the HSE had progressed a full systems analysis regarding the management of the incidents.

The HSE says it’s also constructing a wider governance review of Disability services in Donegal, which will build on the improvement work to date.

This morning, Minister of State Ann Rabbitte said she would like that there to be an independent review into the CHO 1 north west region.

She expressed particular concern about what she said was ‘a pattern’ of failure in the region to protect the service user and the wider disability community.

Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty described this latest revelation as ‘disturbing.’

It’s understood terms of reference are now being drawn up for an independent review of CHO 1 north west to be led by a specialist in social care and safeguarding.

This latest concern over the HSE management of disability services in the north west comes two months after the partial publication of the Brandon Report.

That report outlined details in relation to a separate case, the abuse of fellow residents by a person in Ard Greine Court and the Sean O’Hare Unit in Stranorlar, Co Donegal.