HSE ‘bureaucratic madness’ stops boy getting post-surgery physio at school - Doherty

Dáil told nine-year-old with cerebral palsy refused access to services because he does not live in the catchment area

A nine-year-old boy with cerebral palsy who underwent hip surgery last year cannot access physiotherapy services in his own school in Clondalkin because of HSE “bureaucratic madness”.

Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty said in the Dáil that the HSE disability services allocate interventions based on a child’s home address, not their school address.

“Harry Kirwan and his family live in HSE CHO area six, where there are no physiotherapy services available to him, but his school is in HSE CHO area seven” and despite the fact that physiotherapy is available “the rules prevent those clinicians from supporting them”, said the Donegal TD.

Raising the issue during leaders’ questions, Mr Doherty said that “in order to be able to stand and walk again Harry needs physiotherapy” but he cannot get the service in his own school. “His family and teachers have told us that because of the delay in accessing physiotherapy services Harry may never be able to walk or stand again.”


The child’s family and school “have been engaged with the HSE for a year now to no avail. This is an issue of whether Harry will be able to stand and walk again in the future.”

Mr Doherty said there are six children currently denied services in this school “because of this bureaucratic madness across the state. There are thousands more and this is nothing short of a scandal.”

Calling for immediate action for the children in Clondalkin, he added that parents were saying service provision was worse than ever.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said the Government recognises that it has a duty to engage with the family, and with parents across the country.

He said work was under way to deliver 136 additional therapy posts. This was in addition to the 85 posts that were announced in 2021, of which 55 have been filled.

“I am very concerned to hear that despite the funding be made available to have such a physiotherapist in place in the school that Harry is not in a position to access this,” he added

He said Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly would “make contact on this matter and understand why this is happening and what can be done to get Harry ... the start that you, I and the Government” want him to have.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times