Just 37 inspectors available to monitor 4,700 creches and preschools
Just 37 inspectors available to monitor 4,700 creches and preschools - Social Affairs & News from Ireland & Abroad | The Irish Times - Mon, Jun 03, 2013
''Similarly, there is no inspector in Co Louth (116 creches) or – until last month – in Dublin’s south city area (129 creches). Some childcare facilities have not been examined by officials for four years or more''.
''They included Limerick (five inspectors for 247 creches), Galway (five for 306 creches) and Mayo (three for 136 creches)''.
An interview on RTE earlier in the week with HSE indvidual responsible for Quality did not reveal that she thought there was a shortage of inspectors. This was interesting because much kneejerk reaction since has assumed that this is the nub of the problem. I suspect that there might be some small localised problems but this I suspect that the core issue reflects a deep malaise within the HSE which will only ever be solved by replacing incompetent management within that body.
Anyway, finally we seem to have some data on the number of inspectors who, I understand, are
public health nurses and presumably exclusively assigned to this area.
Looking at these figures, I wondered:
a) Is the inspection system really county-based? Could there be potential conflict of interest here? Can we find out exactly how many managers and how many inspectors there are?
b) How many inspections per week are carried out by each inspector? Some counties appear to have about 50-60 facilities per inspector which would indicate that one or two inspections per week per individual might be the norm.
Is this reasonable? Seems a bit low to me.
c) Is there more than one type of inspection? Given that some facilities have not been inspected in four years, would it make sense to normal people to do a drive-by inspection in cases where there was a backlog developing to serve as a reminder at least that the inspection service was in existence and any gross irregularities could be spotted.
d) Why have we paid enormous tax-free lump sums to HSE staff along with enhanced pensions to retire early if it means that we cannot afford to appoint staff to inspect crèches at least every four years especially when crèches have been paid taxpayers money?
e) Are there conflict of interest rules/standards for HSE in this area? Are HSE staff allowed to own childcare facilities, do inspectors have to declare any conflict of interest?
f) The referendum on childrens' rights (2012)- is there anything more to say?
g) Should HIQA take over the inspection? Would they be bound to employ the HSE managers?
This whole affair seems to demonstrate the potential for massive greed in some parts of the private sector, the necessity of regulation, and the massive inability of HSE management to deploy scare resources in an appropriate manner along with the HSE capacity to forever talk about reform and efficiency but to avoid responsibility on a regular basis.
In summary, I believe the only remedy is for severe penalties for serious breaches of regulations in this area along with significant reform of HSE structures involving wholesale redundancies of incompetent HSE management.