ALMOST 500 people, mostly children, are currently on a HSE waiting list in an effort to access speech and language services in West Cork.
Recent figures released to local TD and Fianna Fáil’s Disability spokesperson, Margaret Murphy O’Mahony, show 37,229 people across the country waiting for speech and language therapy.
‘As of June this year, there are close to 15,000 people waiting for a first assessment, 7,894 are waiting for initial therapy and 14,361 are on the list for further speech and language therapy,’ Deputy Murphy O’Mahony said. ‘And almost 500 people, mostly children, here in West Cork.’
The HSE Service Plan has a target that no-one should wait more than a year for assessment or initial treatment but so far in 2018 it hasn’t been met. ‘In fact, according to these figures,’ said the deputy, ‘2,696 people have been on a waiting list over a year while 282 are waiting over two years.
‘While no specific age breakdown has been provided with these figures, we do know that the overwhelming majority of those waiting are children. It is categorically wrong that so many of those waiting have to do so for so long. It completely undermines the principle of early intervention.’
The figures released by the HSE reveal that in West Cork, as of June 2018, there are 107 people waiting for an initial assessment, a further 83 waiting for therapy and a total of 265 people still waiting for further therapy.
However, with some people waiting up to eight months for an initial assessment, most are assigned an appointment within four months, in West Cork.
‘I am also concerned the recruitment of speech and language therapists has stalled this year,’ Deputy Murphy O’Mahony said. ‘There has been a decrease in the number employed in Community Health Organisations when we compare June 2017 and May of this year. It is clear that if we are to meet the demand for these services, more therapists must be made available.’