Sinn Féin TD for Carlow-Kilkenny Kathleen Funchion has said that figures from the HSE on the average wait times given for child speech and language therapists in Carlow/ Kilkenny last year are “outrageous”.
Teachta Funchion said that waiting times of up to 204 months were an outrage and that if children were expected to wait the duration of times given by the HSE, then many would most likely be adults by the time they attended their appointment.
Deputy Funchion said:
“The waiting times given for Carlow/Kilkenny in 2018 were up to 204 months for a speech and language therapist, or 122 months for an occupational therapist. It is an absolute outrage.
“This type of therapy for children is meant to be interventional in order to assist with a child’s development from the earliest age possible.
“What benefit is there to a child waiting 5, 10 or 15 years for therapy that is meant to carried out immediately upon the detection of issues and a diagnosis? What is the point of even giving an appointment at all at that rate?
“So-called ‘early intervention’ for those unable to afford private treatment, which typically costs €100 or more for a one-hour speech and language therapy session, is completely out of reach.
“Ultimately, there is a two-tier system for children whose parents can pay privately and those who cannot.
“For children in their most formative years, the delay in speech therapy can mean the difference between success or failure at school.
“The delay creates huge issues for children’s confidence and their ability to work and enjoy fully functioning, social lives as adults.
“If we are to go by the times given on the waiting lists for Carlow/Kilkenny 2018, most children will more than likely be 17 or 18 years of age – potentially legally an adult.
“The Minister for Health needs to address this crisis immediately and intervene with solutions to shorten these outrageously long waiting times.”
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