Children’s therapy services criticised

THE director of the Clare Crusaders Clinic in Ennis yesterday claimed that vital services from the HSE are not there for children requiring speech and language therapy.

Ann Norton was responding to new figures from Healthstat showing that speech and language waiting lists for treatment after assessment in 18 of the 32 of the HSE community areas have an unsatisfactory service requiring attention.

In the Healthstat’s ‘red’, ‘amber’ and ‘green’ marking system, it shows the speech and language therapy services in Carlow, Clare, Cork North, Cork North Lee, Cork South Lee, Dublin South City, Dublin South West, Dublin West, Galway, Laois/Offaly, Limerick, Mayo, Roscommon, Tipperary North, Tipperary South, Waterford, Wexford, Wicklow all scored ‘red’

Areas with a good service marked green were Cavan/Monaghan, Dublin North West, Kildare/West Wicklow, Longford/Westmeath, Louth, Meath, Sligo-Leitrim with Cork West, Donegal, Dublin North, Dublin North Central, Dublin South East, Dun Laoghaire and Kerry marked ‘amber’.

The clinic — funded from charitable donations — now provides services to 170 children, a 40% increase on one year ago.

Ms Norton’s 13-year-old daughter, Nicole has cerebral palsy and requires regular speech and language therapy, but according to Ms Norton “from the HSE, it is every fourth, fifth or six week, it is not enough. The services are not there”.

Ms Norton said one of the HSE speech and language therapists in Clare has gone out on maternity leave and has not been replaced resulting in a spike in demand for their services.

IASLT spokeswoman, Michelle Thomas said that the number of ‘reds’ recorded by Healthstat “is of huge concern to the SLT profession who advocate for timely services for clients to minimise the impact of communication delays and disorders. The IASLT would urge as a matter of urgency that the new Minister for Health examine the impact on services.”

A spokesman for the HSE said yesterday: “The number of adults and children referred for both speech and language and occupational therapy services has increased over the last number of years which has led to a less than optimal service in some areas.

“However, with the establishment of primary care teams, services provided in the areas serviced by primary care teams are experiencing almost immediate referrals and treatment.

“Under the Primary Care Strategy, additional therapy grades are being employed across newly developing primary care teams and networks and it is expected that waiting lists and waiting times will be further addressed as these new posts come on stream.”

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