Barnardos: Childhoods harmed by lack of timely access to healthcare

Barnardos has said the lack of timely access to healthcare is harming childhoods, citing figures which show 37,473 children waiting for mental health, disability, and speech and language assessments and services.

The figures were compiled by the charity in its Winter Waiting List Report, and Barnardos said it is clear additional recruitment and other measures are urgently needed to tackle backlogs.

The report utilises information from various sources and reveals a range of shortcomings affecting children seeking services.

It includes a 50% increase between March and August 2018 in the number of children waiting more than a year for either an initial assessment or therapy appointment for speech and language.

The report also said that 78% of children have been waiting longer than the three-month statutory time limit to undergo an Assessment of Need, with those in Cork and Kerry faring the worst.

Children in those two counties also fared worst when it came to accessing mental health services — 29% of children in Cork and Kerry have been waiting more than a year for a CAMHS service.

While there was a negligible improvement in the numbers waiting for CAMHS nationally, the report referred to resignations in the sector and in particular among psychiatrists in the south-east this year.

June Tinsley, head of advocacy at Barnardos, said: “These children face extreme difficulties in their everyday lives because they can’t get timely access to healthcare. Problems in school, in some cases not being able to attend school at all; difficulty making and maintaining friendships; poor mental health, and developmental delays are all common for children on waiting lists.

“It is true that more needs to be done to recruit professionals to treat these children, but there are other solutions out there too which should be considered by Government

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