CHILDREN’S OMBUDSMAN EMILY Logan has identified a raft of failures in how the HSE dealt with a young girl who made allegations of sexual abuse.
A complaint made by the family was upheld by the Ombudsman, who found that that HSE’s actions “negatively affected the child”.
She made findings in three areas — including the handling of the case, assessment of the child and how communication was handled.
The Ombudsman’s findings against the HSE include:
- Poor record keeping
- Failure to allocate a social worker or single point of contact
- Failure to arrange an early face to face meeting with the child
- Failure to provide psychological or therapeutic services
Of particular concern to the Ombudsman were findings in relation to “significant communication difficulties between the HSE and the child’s mother”. According to the Ombudsman “The HSE did not ensure that the mother was fully aware of their procedures, and the relationship between the HSE and the child’s mother broke down”.
“In this case the breakdown of the relationship between the HSE and the child’s mother became a very real impediment to providing the necessary services to the child,” Logan said.
“The period following a disclosure of alleged sexual abuse by a child is very traumatic for both a child and his or her family. It is imperative that HSE staff communicate clearly and in a compassionate way with parents at this extremely stressful time.”
The Ombudsman made ten recommendations to the HSE after the case came to light, which the health service agreed to implement, but Logan says she’s not happy with their response in four of the areas highlighted, namely:
- That the HSE continue to engage with the child and mother in order to assess the child’s current needs and provide appropriate therapeutic services
- That the HSE inform and educate parents of children making disclosures of alleged sexual abuse
- That the HSE allocate a social worker to complex cases
- That the HSE continue to work towards a systemic joint approach with An Garda Síochána for cases of suspected abuse
Ombudsman Logan has since written to the HSE to communicate her views on their lack of progress in the four areas.