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Debate needed on Disability Services for Children & Young People in Cavan/Monaghan – Reilly

13 January, 2016

Calling for a debate on the HSE’s Progressing Disability Services for Children & Young People, Sinn Féin Senator Kathryn Reilly reiterated the need for the Minister for Health to address the House on the totally unacceptable lengths of time children have to wait for physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech and language therapy in Cavan and Monaghan.

The Cavan-Monaghan General Election candidate said:

“This issue was brought to my attention by the many parents in Cavan and Monaghan who have contacted my office to highlight the shocking waiting times children are having to wait for these services. For the past number of months I have been chasing this issue vehemently in the Seanad chamber, through Ministerial replies, and through representations to the HSE. But it seems to have been to no avail.

“Figures released to me by the HSE show that the joint waiting lists for children for physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech and language therapy in counties Cavan and Monaghan for 6 months had reached 517.

“My office is contacted weekly by parents of children who have great difficulty getting appointments from the HSE with regards to diagnostic assessments and therapies for their children. As I and others have noted previously, this is not just the odd case. This is the rule, not the exception.

“Access to therapies for children is severely restricted when we consider the waiting lists that currently exist. A cursory glance at the figures shows that children’s development is being hindered by excessive waiting times spanning over 6 months.

“We must consider that many accessing these services are in their formative years. In Cavan, the waiting list for physiotherapy appointments is 102 children, with 11 children waiting 2 or more years. In Monaghan 67 children are waiting 6 months or more.

“177 children in Cavan are waiting for occupational therapy, with 39 waiting 2 or more years. There are 120 in Monaghan waiting for 6 months or more.

“Finally, 25 and 26 children are on the waiting list for 6 months or more for speech and language therapy in Cavan and Monaghan respectively.

 “The figures released show that there are still unacceptable waiting lists, particularly when you look at the waiting times of over 12 months for these services.

“€4 million for an additional 80 posts was provided under the HSE’s Progressing Disability Services for Children & Young People (0-18 years) in 2014, and a €6 million allocation was announced in 2015 for 120 new staff appointments. The level of funding provided by the government for these services is wholly inadequate, in many cases it has not even seen provision of these services return to 2009/10 levels. They are either deliberately oblivious or ignorant of Ireland’s demographic changes which mean that funding for these services needs to be increased just to cope with additional demand.

“I am aware that in Cavan/Monaghan 2 additional posts, including 1 Speech and language Therapist and 1 Occupational Therapist have been filled. However, looking at the demand that exists in terms of the waiting lists, it is blatantly apparent that further positions are required.

“Sinn Féin’s aim is to increase the number of SLTs by 250, OTs by 100, PTs by 100 and psychologists by 150 over our term in government, at an estimated cost of €30.725 million. This has been accounted for in our recently launched Health policy document ‘Better4Health’. This would benefit the children of Cavan and Monaghan, and their families, and help them access the services they need in a timely manner.” 

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