Correspondence from the HSE indicating a wait time of four years for a child seeking urgent speech and language therapy has been branded disgraceful by Sinn Féin TD for Carlow-Kilkenny Kathleen Funchion.
Deputy Funchion said: “I recently made representations on behalf of a young child, whose parents were at their wits end.
“They had initially been told their child would be waiting for approximately 8-12 weeks to see a specialist. They patiently waited a further four weeks and still no word.
“Local HSE staff informed the family at this point that it could be a further 12 weeks for their child to be assessed, equating to a six month wait for an initial assessment.
“In total frustration they contacted my office and on further enquires on their behalf we were informed that not only would they have to wait approximately six months for an initial assessment, it could take a further 36 months for a therapy appointment.
“Unfortunately this is an all too familiar story. So-called ‘early intervention’ which is vital in order to assist with a child’s development from the earliest age possible is just not happening in reality.
“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.
“Whilst I acknowledge that the HSE has confirmed they are currently recruiting two speech and language therapists, more needs to be done to address these alarming wait times.
“The Minister for Health needs to address this crisis immediately and intervene with solutions to shorten these outrageously long waiting times.”