Sinn Féin spokesperson on Mental Health, Mark Ward TD, has called for an immediate plan from Government for children to access speech and language therapy.
Figures received by Teachta Ward from the HSE have revealed that 41,055 children are currently waiting on some form of treatment.
Of these, 14,288 children are waiting on an initial assessment, 9,365 children waiting on initial therapy, and a staggering 17,402 children are waiting on further therapy.
The Dublin Mid-West TD said:
“Since being elected to represent the people of Dublin Mid-West, I have been inundated with calls from parents who are literally at their wits end with frustration in trying to get treatment for their children.
“One area of treatment that arises constantly is speech and language therapy. I contacted the Minister for Health in regards to this, and the report I have received is shocking.
“To have 41,055 children waiting on some form of treatment is unacceptable. 14,288 of these children are waiting on initial assessment nationally. Other figures show another 9,365 children waiting on initial therapy and a staggering 17,402 children waiting on further therapy.
“The figures are particularly worrying in CHO7, which includes my constituency area of Dublin Mid-West, which has 6,219 children waiting on treatment. 3,371 of these children have been waiting over a year.
“Nationally there are almost 2,000 children waiting over 2 years on either assessment, initial treatment or further treatment. In my own CHO area, which includes Clondalkin, Lucan and Palmerstown, there are 3,371 children waiting over a year – with 904 of these children waiting over two years.
“Early intervention is critical to a child’s development.
“For example, a young 6-year-old child could be waiting 2 years to get an initial assessment. The then 8-year-old child could they be waiting a further 2 years just get some initial speech and language therapy. Finally, according to the figures, they could be 10 or 11 before they receive the vital further treatment that they need. This is absolutely unacceptable.
“Children are being moved from list to list and not getting the appropriate treatment at the appropriate time. This is having a severe impact on their development and is curtailing children’s future growth.
“Covid cannot not be used as an excuse for the Government’s abandonment of children’s needs. These lists are the result of systemic failures by successive Governments.
“In some areas, physiotherapists, occupational and speech and language therapists were redeployed as Covid swabbers and contact tracers, resulting in a complete loss in services.”