herald

Thursday 19 October 2017

Call for plan to tackle speech therapy delay

A backlog of 4,000 children in the Dublin area are waiting up to two years for speech and language therapy.

The system is failing these children, said Fine Gael Senator Paschal Donohoe.

"This kind of therapy is most effective if it begins as early as possible so these children are being let down by long waiting times."

The figures show huge disparities in numbers between different Dublin regions and children's hope of treatment must not depend on where they live, said the Dublin Central senator. "At the end of 2009, there were 3,820 children awaiting assessment in Dublin while at the end of July this year the figure was 3,827.

"These numbers are showing a persistent backlog of thousands of children waiting for assessment and treatment by speech and language services."

The statistics show:

1,394 children waiting between four months and one year for assessment;

623 children waiting between one year and two years for assessment;

833 waiting between four months and one year for treatment;

332 waiting between one year and two years for treatment.

Where the children live affects the length of time they may have to wait. In Dublin South and South East no child has to wait more than eight months for assessment.

In Dublin North the waiting time is under a year but in Dublin South West and West 635 and 554 children respectively wait for up to two years.

Senator Donohoe said: "Dublin South in particular shows a serious improvement in waiting lists when its position at the end of 2009 is compared with its position at the end of July this year.

"Clearly we need to look at other areas and find out if we can apply those successes to the areas where there are now chronic problems."

According to the HSE, "The waiting period for intervention is dependent on the nature and severity of the disorder following assessment."

It says it "aims to ensure that the resources available are used to best effect, in order to provide assessment and ongoing therapy to children and adults in line with their prioritised needs".

csheehy@herald.ie

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