The Health Service Executive says it is continuing to work with voluntary agencies to provide respite beds in the Cork area.

Cork Kerry Community Healthcare (CKCH) says ongoing recruitment issues means there’s still - what it terms - "inconsistency" in the service available.

Ten out of a total of 27 respite beds for children with disabilities in the Cork area have been closed, some since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

In response to queries from RTÉ News, the HSE said recruitment of staff for disability services would always be challenging, given the skill sets required and the nature of the service being delivered.

It says Enable Ireland has a "robust recruitment plan" in place, in order to re-open the ten beds by September.

But the Executive also says it is not possible to be definitive about the end result of this process.

CKCH says the utilisation of agency staffing would "be an ongoing feature" while recruitment processes were ongoing.

Earlier this week the HSE CEO Bernard Gloster said there was an enormous challenge in accessing the necessary staff when it came to the complexity and volume of need, presenting for care.

Mr Gloster has apologised for the pressures being experienced as a result of the crisis in accessing respite care in Co Cork, saying he understood the huge frustration and upset this was causing to the families involved.

The situation is particularly acute for 48 children attending Carrigaline Community Special School and their families.

Since the school opened in September 2021, those children have not been able to access overnight respite services and they have been unable to get on any waiting list.

Cork Kerry Community Healthcare says it is "optimising home supports" in ongoing efforts to address the shortfall in the provision of care for the children and families in question.