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The services cost €228,398 in the first six months of 2015, and €422,860 for all of 2014. Most of the HSE spend at the Balseskin reception centre in north Dublin was pay-related, but also included costs such as IT, stationary, supplies, medical items, translators and catering fees, said the HSE.
An “increase in clinical work” at Balseskin, where asylum applicants are initially accommodated when newly-arrived to Ireland, was noted in April at a meeting of the National Intercultural Health Governance Group. Meeting minutes also referred to posts “awaiting filling/recruitment”.
According to the HSE, the staff complement at Balseskin as of May this year comprised one WTE clinical nurse specialist, 1.4 WTE registered midwives, two WTE play therapists, an area medical officer (three days per week), one WTE clinical psychologist, one basic-grade social worker, and one WTE clerical officer.
Two GPs provide services on a sessional basis, while a psychiatric nurse post has been approved.
Some 304 people were accommodated at Balseskin as of July and it has a contracted capacity of 310, according to the Department of Justice.
Voluntary health screening assessment is offered to all newly-arrived residents in Balseskin, and includes voluntary infectious disease screening and brief psychosocial assessment. On average, there is an 80-to-85 per cent take-up of voluntary health screening, stated the HSE. “Some people in Balseskin would not be offered screening, ie, have been screened previously or may be awaiting return to country of original residence,” said a HSE spokesperson.
Asylum applications rose to 1,448 last year, compared to 946 in 2013. The most recent figures show that 215 asylum applications were received in January 2015, compared with 99 in January 2014. Approximately 4,600 residents live in asylum-seeker accommodation centres nationwide, under the direct provision system.
A Government-commissioned report, published in June, noted a range of health issues experienced by asylum seekers and urged enhancement of health supports.