Crowe Calls Minister for Health to End Speech & Language Delay

Dublin South West TD Seán Crowe has called on the Minister for Health Simon Harris to prioritise and address the long waiting list for children with profound needs in accessing speech and language supports. There is currently a 42 month delay in the   Dublin South West area.

Crowe believes that the continued failure to fill key posts is the main factor in the delays. He is calling for some of the new 100 therapy posts that have been allocated in last year’s budget to be allocated to the CHO7 area that covers his constituency and where the need clearly is.

Deputy Seán Crowe said

The Minister for Health Simon Harris needs to prioritise and address the growing problem of access to speech and language supports for children in the Dublin South West area.

“It is absolutely appalling that a child with profound and complex needs now has to wait 42 months to get the attention of a team for its needs to be assessed and then hopefully addressed.

“There are currently 297 on that waiting list with a further 80 waiting screening giving a total of 377 children awaiting multi-disciplinary services from the HSE in the Dublin South West School Age Team.

In a reply I received from the HSE they admit that there has been no movement in the waiting list in the last 11 months due to the volume of children that are transitioning from the Early Intervention Service, the capacity caseloads of team members, the delays in filling of vacancies and maternity leave positions not being filled and you can probably add no replacements for staff out sick.

There is currently no Team Manager, the Staff Grade Education Psychologist is vacant from December the 14, no Staff Grade Psychologist,  no Staff Grade Occupational Therapist, and many other key positions remain to be filled.

A significant increase in Health and Social Care professionals is required to adequately meet the demand of children in these areas.

“Clearly additional resources are required to address the backlog as the School Age Team in Dublin South West is unable to meet the current and growing demand for help.

The latest census would suggest that demand with an increase in population and the increasing prevalence of disability will increase not decrease in the time ahead.

“Families and parents are at their wits end with some having to meet the shortfall through private and often costly alternatives. This is not an option for the majority of people whose children are on this long list.

“The policy of early intervention is not working if children have to wait 42 months to get access to a Team and God knows how long the wait is for speech and language supports.

“I am calling on the Minister  for Health Simon Harris and the HSE to allocate  some of the new 100 therapy posts that have been agreed in last year’s budget to be allocated to the CHO7 where need is clearly evident.