215,000 children on waiting lists; One in four waiting longer than a year

215,000 children on waiting lists; One in four waiting longer than a year

Fianna Fáil’s health spokesperson Stephen Donnelly has criticised the “massive lottery post code” when it comes to children’s health services.

He was responding to figures he received through parliamentary questions which showed there are almost 215,000 children on waiting lists for health care services, with more than one in four waiting for longer than a year.

The figures indicate huge variations depending on where the children live.

Mr Donnelly told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that there is a correlation between more affluent areas and lower waiting lists.

The figures are “a dark stain on the country,” he said

According to the replies to the parliamentary questions there are 90,000 children waiting for community health care services, this includes 19,000 children waiting for speech and language therapy.

The figures show that 2,000 of these have been waiting for longer than a year and 300 more than two years.

Waiting lists in North Dublin are the highest in the country, with 2,400 children awaiting speech and language therapy.

This compares to just ten children on a waiting list for speech and language therapy in Dún Laoghaire and none in Dublin South East.

There are more than 7,000 children and teenagers waiting to see a psychologist, jumping by almost 20% in the past year.

Added to the 117,000 children on hospital waiting lists, it brings the total figure of children waiting for public health care to 215,000.

Mr Donnelly said the waiting lists were “a political failure.”

He added that Fianna Fáil has solutions to offer such as ending the hiring embargo, equalising salaries for new entry level doctors and the need to open up diagnostic services.

He pointed out that 30 radiographers had been approved for Temple Street Hospital, but that only 19 had been hired.

“The funding is there, but they cannot hire the extra 11 needed.

“Children cannot be allowed wait like this.”

When asked about the timing of the next general election, Mr Donnelly said that it would be “in the next few months” and that “the country cannot wait”.

He dismissed comments by his party colleague John McGuinness who said he will vote against the Government if a motion of no confidence is brought forward in the new year.

Mr Donnelly said that Mr McGuinness’s position “does not matter.”

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