A permanent settlement has been reached in a dispute which saw Galway’s, and the country's only 24 hour child and adolescent sexual assault unit temporarily close. Welcoming the announcement, Deputy Hildegarde Naughton, T.D. for Galway West – South Mayo stated
“I am very happy to see that talks have been successful and that this hugely valuable unit can now reopen on a permanent and properly resourced footing.
Prior to last Christmas I became aware that the service was under threat as negotiations between the doctors involved in providing the service and the HSE had reached stalemate. I immediately contacted Minister Varadkar and HSE West officials who assured me that the service would resume and that talks would conclude successfully. In the interim the service continued to be offered.
However, in the last few weeks it appeared that talks had again reached no agreement and the service had to temporarily close. Having been in close contact with all sides in the resumed negotiations I am now happy to report that excellent progress has been made. Progress that has alleviated the clinicians concerns about the service, that provides the necessary resources to ensure best practice, and allows it to resume on a much more secure footing.
I wish to put on record the commitment of both Dr. Joanne Nelson, Clinical Director, and Mr. Tony Canavan, HSE West, in ensuring that the service would continue. I would also like to acknowledge the role of the Minister for Health in ensuring that central funds were identified to support the service into the future. Not only is this service of value to the people of Galway and Mayo, but to people across the entire western seaboard. Additionally, as the only 24 hour service in the country, it regularly provides out of hours emergency assistance to children from across the State. In 2015 the Child and Adolescent Sexual Assault Unit assessed/treated 70 children. The service includes forensic and psychological care and aftercare for children who are under 14 years of age.
While I sincerely hope that no parent or their children has ever to avail of this service, it is a vital element that cannot be done without. I am glad to see that the interests of children have prevailed in this case and that no child victim of sexual violence will want for an appropriate service should it ever be needed."