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Disability Services waiting lists of over 29 months for children in Cavan & Monaghan – Reilly

25 November, 2015

Addressing the Seanad on the Cavan/Monaghan Implementation Plan for Progressing Disability Services for Children and Young People and the accessibility of therapy services and assessments for children in the area, Sinn Féin Senator Kathryn Reilly read into the record the first hand experiences of parents and children from the area who are waiting over 29 months for access to vital services.

Speaking in the Seanad, she said:

“Since I last raised this issue, I have been inundated with parents contacting me with their own experiences and stories of the disability services for young people in Cavan and Monaghan. Their experiences tell of despair, concern and in some cases anger with what they feel is a system that is failing their children’s needs. 

“An implementation plan that will ensure therapy services for children are more accessible and are available within acceptable timeframes is welcome. But we need to see the roll out of this plan as a matter of priority. Saying there is a plan and advising that there are proposals in place will not alleviate the burdens of assessment and waiting times in the short term. When parents are saying that the lack of interventions and therapies at an early stage, as a result of waiting lists, is causing their children to regress, this then becomes an issue of concern.

“In relation to the specific services that are being restructured and proposed in Cavan/Monaghan, is there a timeframe for same? Also, and for those interested parents and families affected directly by this issue, can you advise how the plan can help their children? Essentially for those children on the waiting list currently, those being put on it, in the middle of a long wait to access assessment or services, how will this plan help them? Will it mean availability and access will be facilitated in the next month, 3 months, 6 months, a year? Or will it only help those in the future?

“In the Minister of State Kathleen Lynch’s last contribution, when I asked when the networks were to be established she advised that this process will take time. I accept that change takes time. Overhauling or implementing a new system cannot happen overnight. But, the demand for services is growing, as evidenced in the surge in referrals. If the Government could provide some idea of a timeframe of how this change is to happen, when or how the network teams are to be built up, when gaps are identified, when posts will be allocated, it would go some way to allaying the concerns of parents who truly feel that their children are being lost in the system.”

Speaking after the debate, Senator Reilly expressed regret that the Minister herself was not present to take the matter and that vital questions were left unanswered:

“For parents and their children in Cavan and Monaghan to find out upon referral to these services that the waiting lists extend over two years to 29 months makes a mockery of the concept of ‘early intervention’. The fact is that because of the serious backlogs, parents whose children need therapies and treatments are often forced to go private at great personal cost. Or in many cases, parents cannot afford this and witness their children regressing. This is completely unacceptable.

“The allocation of 4 additional therapy posts to Cavan and Monaghan is welcome, but the fact is parents want to know how this will alleviate the waiting lists and when their children will be seen- something that went unanswered today.” 

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