1,182 children waiting more than 4 months for speech and language therapy in Cork – Buckley
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Mental Health Pat Buckley TD has condemned excessive waiting times for paediatric speech and language therapy services in Cork. He was responding to a reply from the HSE which stated that 1182 children were waiting more than 4 months for therapy, with 25 of those waiting over a year and 58 children waiting more than 4 months for just an initial assessment.
Deputy Buckley said:
“Children with speech and language difficulties face a number of challenges as they grow older in terms of socialisation and academic involvement. These problems can create considerable hardship for these children, especially if treatment of the issue is delayed. There is a clear link between speech and language difficulties and later mental health issues. It is also predominantly children from disadvantaged backgrounds who have to wait.
“As with all issues relating to children, early intervention is key. The sooner a problem is identified, assessed and treated the better outcomes for that child throughout their life and the less support they will need in the future. This is a basic common sense and efficient approach to health care.
“The reply from the HSE reveals that in Cork alone 753 children are currently awaiting initial assessment and nearly 8% of these have been waiting between 4 and 8 months. This is particularly unacceptable when you consider that once an initial assessment has taken place a child may go untreated for up to 18 months.
“1,182 children in Cork are currently waiting more than 4 months for treatment having already had to wait for assessment, that’s more than half of the waiting list in the county. Nearly half of these children have been waiting more than 8 months and 25 have been waiting in excess of a year.
“Every day is crucial in the treatment of issues like this for children and every day, week, and month that passes without treatment is damaging. The HSE claims 12 months waiting is acceptable, I completely disagree.
“The government must tackle this now. We need increased funding to allow children waiting in excess of 8 months to access private therapy in order to clear lists and funding for the public service which matches demand and allows for appropriate levels of service.”
Note: Please see the PQ reply from the HSE above