Fianna Fáil Seanad Group Leader, Senator Catherine Ardagh has said the Government needs to urgently get to grips with the growing crisis in waiting lists in South Dublin for Speech and Language services for children with disabilities.
Senator Ardagh raised the matter during today's Seanad Order of Business following yesterday’s ‘Enough is Enough’ campaign rallies which took place around the country to highlight the excessive delays that children with disabilities are forced to endure in accessing essential services such as Speech and Language Therapy.
The latest figures made available by the HSE show that 2,883 children are waiting for speech therapy in Dublin South Central and Dublin West.
Speaking in the Seanad this afternoon Senator Ardagh said, “These figures are concerning and show that improving access to Speech and Language Therapy simply isn’t happening under this Government. To date, there are 330 children in South Dublin waiting for more than 9 months for treatment. This is an appalling indictment of the way this Government treats children with disabilities.
“It’s well acknowledged that the earlier intervention occurs in terms of the provision of services for children with disabilities, the better the outcome for the child over the course of their life. The delay in accessing children for Speech and Language Therapy is preventing them from accessing treatment, which in turn is impacting on their overall quality of life.
“There are shortages of therapists to fulfill demands and in some areas those on maternity or sick leave are not replaced. This is giving rise to excessive waiting lists which is the root cause of the problem. The problem can be easily fixed by hiring more therapists and ensuring services are adequately resourced.
“Without assessment some children cannot access additional support services, which has huge ramifications on their overall development and causes huge stress for families. Ensuring that every child receives the adequate support necessary for them to reach their full potential should be an absolute priority for society.
“The Confidence and Supply Agreement between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael commits to improve services and increase supports for people with disabilities, particularly for early assessment and intervention for children with special needs.
“These waiting list figures underline the urgency of meeting this commitment instead of just ignoring it,” concluded Senator Ardagh.