Special school in Limerick faces 'daunting prospect' as it is to lose much-needed nurse

Fintan Walsh, Health Correspondent

Reporter:

Fintan Walsh, Health Correspondent

Email:

fintan.walsh@limerickleader.ie

Special school in Limerick faces 'daunting prospect' as it is to lose much-needed nurse

Daughters of Charity to withdraw much-needed nurse from St Vincent's Special School

A SPECIAL school in Limerick is to lose its much-needed nurse service this summer, as it is set to be transferred to an adult facility, leaving a number of children without a nurse in September. 

On Wednesday night, the parents association of St Vincent's Lisnagry Special School took to social media to announce that it is to lose its nurse, provided by Daughters of Charity, "due to lack of HSE funding". 

However, the HSE has refuted this claim, saying that no funding has been cut. 

A spokesperson for the HSE Mid-West Community Healthcare said that the withdrawal of St Vincent's nursing service "has no relevance to funding" and that this "is a matter for the Daughters of Charity with the school to resolute and not the HSE". 

St Vincent's Special School is Ireland's third largest school of its kind, with 117 pupils, five of whom have life-limiting conditions and require full-time nursing supports. 

However, as of this June, these children will no longer have this crucial support, following the transfer of a nurse to an adult facility. 

The announcement has caused considerable upset among parents of pupils and the wider community. 

In a statement to the Limerick Leader on Friday afternoon, the Daughters of Charity Disability Support Service said that it had a number of children living in residential services that attended St Vincent's school and required specialist nursing support. 

"We by way of an agreement with the school, provided nursing care support to those children and others with complex needs. Over time as these children in residential services have left school and transitioned to adult services, the nursing support understandably transferred with them to adult day services."

"As the last remaining pupil from our residential services will be leaving school in June 2020 that nurse must transfer to support the transition to adult services."

The spokesperson added that the arrangement is "not in any way linked to the lack of funding from the HSE but rather a transfer of our resources to adult services".

Have you been affected? We want to hear from you. Contact us at news@limerickleader.ie

It is understood that the school has, for a number of months, raised concerns with various Government and State authorities in relation to the prospect of losing this vital nursing support. 

Senator Kieran O'Donnell has written to the HSE and the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, requesting that funding be provided for a full-time nurse at the school. 

In a statement on Friday, Sen O'Donnell said the Minister is looking into the matter. 

"Action must be taken on this critical issue to provide certainty and alleviate the genuine worries of both parents and staff at St Vincent's special school for the well-being of all students needing nursing support and care from next September."

The senator met with the principal, Bridann O'Callaghan, on Thursday morning to discuss the matter. 

"We discussed the sitation unfolding where the school is facing the daunting prospect of having no Nursing support from September 2020. The medical needs of many of the pupils attending St Vincent's makes it imperative that they have a full-time dedicated nurse at the school."

The nursing support in this case is paid for by the Daughters of Charity and funded by the HSE, and was not acting as a school nurse for the wider school but as a support to children with special needs. 

A nurse for the wider school would fall under the governance of the Department of Education.