Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Equality, Immigration and Integration Fiona O’Loughlin TD says that the HSE is failing to achieve key targets on traveller health.
Deputy O’Loughlin said, “I tabled a series of questions to the Minister for Health on traveller issues and the replies that have come back show slow progress on essential initiatives.
“For example the HSE pledged in its 2017 Primary Care Operation Plan to geomap Traveller Health Units, Traveller sites and align these with primary care and mental health catchment areas by the end of June but owing to ‘resource constraints’ this has not been done.
“Similarly I sought on update on the commitment to train staff in Traveller Health Units on the national suicide strategy Connecting for Lifeso that it can be promoted, in a culturally appropriate manner, to members of the Traveller community. This too was to be achieved by the start of July. Again I was told that training of staff in Traveller Health Units is presently behind schedule due to staffing and resource constraints.
“The HSE also said they would undertake a review by the end of March of the role of Traveller community health workers and identify issues in relation to sustainability of this workforce. It seems that a ‘scoping exercise’ was conducted but is now being reviewed ‘in further detail with a view to clarifying any emerging issues’.
“Furthermore a financial audit of Traveller services receiving funding from the HSE which was to be completed during the second quarter of the year also did not materialise.
“None of the replies I received would give the impression of any urgency in addressing Traveller health needs. Studies have shown that Travellers suffer greater health challenges and have lower life expectancy. If we are to see any improvement in these outcomes it is critical that the HSE honour its commitments in a timely fashion.”