Audiology waiting lists in Laois and Offaly have been branded a ‘scandal’ by a Sinn Fein TD.
Audiology is a branch of science that studies hearing, balance, and related disorders.
Audiologists treat those with hearing loss and proactively prevent related damage.
By employing various testing strategies, audiologists aim to determine whether someone has normal sensitivity to sounds.
Sinn Fein TD Brian Stanley says that 1,376 people across both counties are waiting to avail of such services.
While the fact that so many children are waiting is another cause for concern.
He said: “These figures are appalling. While it is understandable there were no clinics being held over the past 3 months because of Covid 19, now that they have restarted it is time for this service to be scaled up and expanded.’
“The breakdown of these figures paints an alarming picture. There are a total of 1376 people awaiting the services in the 2 counties, 902 of these are children.
“In Laois there are 458 children over 4 years of age waiting for services and 238 in Offaly plus 206 children under 4 years in the 2 counties. Of huge concern is the fact that 504 of these children are waiting over 2 years for services.
“For children over 4 years of age, there are 266 waiting in Laois over 2 years and 151 in Offaly.
“The effects of these long waiting lists are having a detrimental impact on people’s lives.
“Children who can’t hear properly are missing out on learning in schools and colleges and their development is being hampered.
“Adults who are waiting years for hearing aids and services are also facing problems in the workplace and socially.
“The elderly need to avail of these services as they can be excluded from normal activities such as attending bingo, listening to the news or having normal conversations with other people. The Government need to realise that people’s quality of life and their ability to function is at stake here.
“The root of these problems is understaffing. Currently we are informed there is only 1 full time Audiologist to cover 4 counties, Laois, Offaly, Longford and Westmeath and 2 part time in Laois/Offaly.
“These workers are obviously doing their best to provide a service. Our understanding is that there is approval for 2 more Audiologist to be appointed and they now need to be put in place.’’