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‘Crisis point’ reached on number of children awaiting crucial services

Brian Stanley on Covid-19
Brian Stanley

Sinn Fein TD Brian Stanley says the number of children in Laois and Offaly awaiting special interventions has reached ‘crisis point’.

The Deputy was speaking after he revealed that a total of 4,771 children are waiting for either psychology services, occupational therapy or speech and language therapy in the two counties.

He said: “The current waiting list is scandalous and totally unacceptable.

“The worst part of this is, that there are a staggering 2650 children waiting more than one year to be seen and assessed for appropriate treatment and interventions. It is causing huge difficulties for children who have autism and other conditions.

“A total of 2,014 children are on waiting list for occupational therapy, 1,281 more than 12 months. 1,304 children need to be seen by a child psychologist with 801 of them gone over a one year wait.

WSpeech and language services have 1,453 waiting for sessions, 568 of them more than a year.

“With figures like this we are storing up problems for the future. It is widely accepted that early assessments and intervention are critical in terms of a child’s overall development.

“Delayed interventions or lack of services at early and critical stages of a child’s development are missed opportunities and lead to other more complex issues in later life.

“On top of the difficulties its causing regarding child development, it is also putting huge pressure and stress on families who are trying to cope with children who are in some cases regressing due to lack of services.

“While the Covid Emergency may have held up some services and added some to the waiting lists, nonetheless it doesn’t explain the scandalous delays.

“It’s vitally important that the matter is addressed and the necessary measures put in place.

“I have raised these issues many times with the Minister for Health and HSE management and I intend to keep pressing for significant improvements in services.

“I am calling for immediate action to be taken to address the huge backlog of children who are awaiting either psychology services, occupational therapy or speech and language therapy in Laois/Offaly.”

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.