Barnardos Survey shows delays in children’s health assessments

A survey of parents has backed up figures showing serious delays in families accessing mental and physical health assessments for their children.

Children’s charity Barnardos conducted the survey which showed more than half of parents questioned said they had been waiting for at least a year for their child to receive a speech and language assessment. Some 15% of respondents said they had been waiting for more than two years.

Likewise, more than half of those questioned by Barnardos said they had waited for more than a year for their child to receive S&L treatment, including 29% waiting more than two years.

The survey of 242 parents showed a huge level of worry that such delays were resulting in their children developing poor communication skills, had a negative influence on overall family life, and was affecting their child’s mood and behaviour.

The same survey showed that more than one-quarter of parents said their child had been waiting more than two years to be assessed for the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), and more than 35% of respondents have been waiting more than two years to receive treatment from CAMHS. More than 80% of those questioned said these delays were affecting their child’s mood and wellbeing.

Two-thirds of respondents said they had been waiting more than a year for their child to receive an assessment of need, with a similar percentage waiting more than a year to receive treatment as recommended in an assessment of need.

Just last week another three families, all from Cork, were granted leave to bring Judicial Review proceedings in the High Court over statutory delays in the assessment of need (AON) process. It brought to six, the number of families who have launched a legal action against the HSE in relation to the AON process.

The Barnardos survey reveals 96% had waited more than the statutory timeframe of three months for AON and the responses overall prompted the charity’s CEO, Fergus Finlay, to state that the results were “startling, but unfortunately they are not surprising”.

He said the southern region, in particular, had lengthy waiting lists: in February 2017 in the South Lee region there were 69 children waiting for more than two years for an initial assessment — 14 times the percentage waiting nationally for the same service.


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