Inspection reports will be available online ‘within weeks’

New inspection reports on creches will be available online “in a couple of weeks”, Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald said yesterday as the HSE came in for strong criticism over the Prime Time programme exposing abuses within the system.

Both Minister Fitzgerald and the HSE said inspection reports into creches will be made available online in the aftermath of what the minister called the “deeply disturbing” findings of the programme.

“You have to change the culture, you have to be vigilant, you have to monitor, you have to inspect, you have to train, you have to have people with qualifications,” the minister said. “All of that applies to this sector. This is a sector that has grown incredibly quickly over the years of the Celtic Tiger.”

She said the under-fives had not been adequately addressed in the past decade and that work was needed to shore up the sector.

“We do need a stronger inspection regime, we do need more follow-up, and we do need the inspection to take account of a broader range of issues, for example, quality,” she said.

On the publication online of the reports, Annie Callinan, head of quality assurance, HSE, said “this was a reform in progress” as the move had already been planned.

Ms Callinan said the HSE had been reforming aspects of its service in the past two years and inspections were “extremely important”.

She said she was not satisfied with the current rate of inspection — typically a visit every 20 months — but while there was a reconfiguration of inspectors the HSE “probably need more capacity”.

“I don’t know if we need more inspectors — we need to look at the whole of the system,” she said.

“We are going to publish inspection reports online within months,” she said, adding that “more robust enforcement” was also needed.

Two separate investigations are being carried out by the HSE and gardaí into the creches featured in the Prime Time report.

One of the creches featured in the report, Links in Malahide, yesterday had to suspend a fake Twitter account in its name which featured tweets about staff losing sleep following the programme and an offer of 25% off childcare services.

MKC Communications, which represents Links, said the Twitter account had nothing to do with the creche and that Links was not responsible.

In a statement the company said: “We are in ongoing contact with the parents directly affected by the footage and with the parents of other children in our care at Abington. A full re-training programme for staff in all Links creches begins this weekend. We are progressing with plans to provide real-time CCTV online coverage for parents, subject to their consent.”

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