Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Defending The Indefensible.

Hi All,

I thought I'd better give you the next installment of our sinister saga of the search for services! I've had 3 months to digest this latest flash point. That digestion has been far from easy. I have lost countless nights' sleep, sobbed into cups of tea, glasses of wine and the shoulders of family and friends. The whole experience marks a new low in our struggles for Rory's care, and you all know, we have already scraped the bottom on more the one occasion.

Since his dramatic arrival, 5 weeks early in Aug 03, we have had the honour of being surrounded by some of the best medical care known to mankind. Our lives have been touched by some of the kindest, most humane professionals I have ever had the privilege to encounter. They have sat with us, all day when necessary, they have been on call 24/7, they have worried with us,informed and instructed us, but most of all, they have empathised. When life throws you the enormous challenge of a chronically ill child, the dice can roll any number of ways. We came out with some pretty good odds. Against us, was the fact that nobody had ever seen a case like Rory's before, but in our favour, this made the team all the more committed to a successful outcome. Before 2003, very few kids born in Ireland were successfully dialysed from birth. In view of this amazing miracle, you could be forgiven for thinking that every possible early intervention strategy would be thrown at this case to maximize the positive outcome.

Even with my 5 years of bitter experience of the basket case that is early childhood intervention in the West of Ireland, I will never be able to fathom why it is so appallingly bad.

Anyway, I digress from the story at hand, I just had to vent that yet again, excuse the indulgence; but I really do believe that it bears repeating.

OK, so bearing in mind the quality of care and professionalism we had as our benchmark, I immediately assumed that the employment of an unlicensed, threat to public safety, as a speech and language therapist, must have been a huge mistake. Management would be suitably horrified when they found out, surely. Mind you, I was not thrilled about the fact that I was going to be the bearer of bad news, what with my previous experience of messengers and shootings! I pondered long and hard on the most appropriate way to inform Enable Ireland management. I figured an elected public representative would be the best person for the job. He would be objective, yet have sufficient gravitas for people to at least, take his phone calls, he would also be in possession of a rudimentary working knowledge of the legislation governing this type of situation. My local TD did not disappoint on two of the above; objectivity and knowledge. However, it seems he didn't warrant a return phone call. After two days, he gave up and rang head office in Dublin. Their reply was curt, and to the point. They knew about her license irregularities, it seems another parent had expressed concerns 4 weeks earlier! Meanwhile she was still in full time employment, paid for by you and me.

Hello people! Anyone out there on planet HSE listening? You were employing a "threat to public safety" to work with vulnerable children and none of you Einsteins thought it might be appropriate to suspend her pending a full investigation? Lets not forget, ladies and gentlemen, that this woman was still in the probationary period of her employment contract, so there were no legal impediments to suspending her. To say I flipped at this news would be the understatement of the century!

Like my local TD, it seems that I was also on their "Don't Call Back" list. The local services manager took a week to return my urgent calls. Annual leave being cited as the excuse, but none of her minions manged to communicate that little nugget of information during the preceding week. When she finally deemed it appropriate to address my concerns, her explanation fell rather short of what I would have expected from a public servant of her grade. According to current wisdom within Enable Ireland, cases of fraud, falsification of qualifications and being deemed a threat to public safety, do not constitute a loss of clinical competency. In other words, the local management team decided not to suspend her because, even though she had no license to practice, her clinical competency was not in question.I would love to have been a fly on the wall at that meeting, listening to the defense of the indefensible. If anyone could translate that into acceptable logic, I would be very grateful. Because at the moment I am at a loss.

Where do you go when the people in charge play by a completely code of moral conduct to the rest of the civilized world?

How can you claim to care for vulnerable children when you knowingly refer them to a therapist who has been deemed a threat to public safety? I had naively thought we had cleared that kind of rot out of this country, when we closed the industrial schools. Is it just me ? Am I being too demanding here?

Advice would be welcome.


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