Friday, June 28, 2013

Public health nurses must be included in new Child and Family Agency

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty TD, has welcomed a commitment from John Hennessy, the incoming Director of Primary Care, that the Department of Health will seriously consider a request to include public health nurses in the new Child and Family Agency. Deputy Doherty was speaking after department officials and representatives from the Institute of Community Health Nursing (ICHN) appeared before the Oireachtas Health Committee.

“Public health nurses provide an invaluable service to families across this country. They are the only health professionals to visit the home of every new-born child and mother in Ireland, allowing them to build unique relationships based on trust within families and communities.

“The establishment of the new Child and Family Agency represents the greatest transformation of children and family services in the history of the State, by bringing together functions from the HSE, the Family Support Agency and the National Educational Welfare Board. I believe this new Agency should be somewhere families will turn to in the first instance, rather than as a last resort. As a result, it is crucial that public health nurses are included within its structures.

“I understand that legislative challenges have led to the current decision not to include public health nurses in the new Agency. But I feel strongly that these challenges must be overcome. Representatives of the ICHN gave powerful contributions to the Health Committee earlier today about the role they play in child welfare. In particular, they detailed how public health nurses can identify children and family in need of early intervention, specifically in relation to the service they provide to pre-school children.

“The incoming Director of Primary Care, John Hennessy, also attended today’s Committee hearing, and I am delighted with the response he gave to the concerns of public health nurses. Mr Hennessy said that the gate is not closed in relation to including public health nurses in the new Agency; in fact he described it as a ‘critical issue’ and he promised to discuss this issue further within the Department.

“Mr Hennessy’s response was extremely welcome. I know he listened keenly to the contributions of the ICHN, and I hope he can ensure their concerns do not go unanswered. If we want to get the new Child and Family Agency off to the best possible start, public health nurses must be included from the outset, and the positive role they can play within it must be valued and recognised.”

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