The health executive reacted after the issue was raised by Senator Tim Lombard who said he was “shocked and deeply concerned” about the delays.
“It’s a huge period of time in the life of a child and a very substantial portion of their development,” he said.
“An eight-year-old child could be waiting a quarter of their lifetime just to be assessed. We’re not even talking about progression being made here, just waiting a quarter of a lifetime to receive an assessment.”
The Primary Care Psychology Service in the Cork and Kerry Community Health Organisation (CHO) provides vital services for children, aged 18 and under, with social, emotional or behavioural problems.
Senator Lombard said such delays in providing help for children were absolutely unacceptable.
He said research showed early intervention was an essential factor in increasing likelihood of positive outcomes.
“The earlier an issue is understood and resolved the better the overall outcome, not just for the individual but the wider community.”
He said the current delays to receive vital psychological services cannot continue if we are to give children the best possible start and a foundation for a positive future.
“If waiting list delays are not addressed soon there will be long-term effects on the wider community due to things such as reduced economic productivity and more complex and financial exhausting issues,” Senator Lombard said.
The Minane Bridge, Co Cork-based senator said he raised the issue with the junior minister for health Helen McEntee.
She reportedly advised there were current plans to recruit full-time staff for Cork and Kerry CHO.
The minister of state also confirmed a number of actions were being undertaken within the psychology service to try and reduce the waiting list.
They will include drop-in clinics (avoiding waiting list altogether), maximising the input of trainee psychologists, and facilitating group work and staff training as much as possible.
“These are welcome developments, it is good to see that the issue is known and attempts are being made to resolve it. I have also been advised the Cork and Kerry CHO is currently reviewing the waiting lists for therapy services, psychology included, in order to identify any opportunities that exist to improve wait times,” Senator Lombard said.