AT the end of October 2018, more than 36,500 people were awaiting speech and language therapy and a further 23,000 were awaiting occupational therapy, the majority of whom were children, Fianna Fáil Deputy Margaret Murphy O’Mahony told the Dáil.
Speaking during a debate on a Labour Party motion on children, she said the HSE Service Plans over a number of consecutive years provided for 129 children’s disability network teams to be put in place by the end of last year.
‘To date, 56 teams are in place,’ she said.
‘This is hardly a resounding success. Worse still, even with the significant numbers waiting more than a year for first assessments for occupational therapy, OT, there are no additional occupational therapists put in place to address the situation. This makes a mockery of the statutory six months turnaround from when a child enters the system.’
Deputy Murphy O’Mahony said it is well documented that if children are to stand any chance, early intervention is vital. ‘As for speech and language therapy, sadly, the number of therapists employed has reduced rather than increased,’ she said. ‘Budget 2019 provides for the recruitment of 100 additional therapists. With the number of therapists falling, the government is, unfortunately, on the back foot from the start.’
Speaking during the same debate, Independent Deputy Michael Collins said in his area of West Cork, the Jack & Friends support centre, formally known as Bandon Autism Parent Support, is an excellent resource for children and their families.
The group, he said, is holding its official opening on Saturday, February 16th and he wished them every success in the future.
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