1 June 2017
By Tom O’Sullivan
Labour Party Local Area Representative, Peter Horgan, has called on the new Government to prioritise Early Years Intervention investment as a matter of urgency.
“Whether which way the Fine Gael Leadership contest goes, we will have a new Taoiseach and a new-ish Government next week,” said Mr Horgan.
“What must be a key priority for the new Government and the new Minister for Health is a commitment of €268 million over the next five years to hire staff to clear the backlog in Early Years Intervention. Barnardos published waiting list data last week for Cork and the figures are alarming not just for the families concerned but everyone with a shred of social conscience.”
“It is clear from the national statistics that children in the Cork area are waiting significantly longer than those in other parts of the country for the same services.”
According to Barnardos:
- 10,201 children and young people aged 0-18 on waiting lists for an initial speech and language assessment. On average 78% were seen within four monthswhich is positive. However, 69 children on waiting list for over two years within CHO4 area (particularly South Lee area in Cork) compared to none in most of the other areas of the country. This figure stands at 14 times the percentage waiting nationally for the same service.
- Another 10,118 children and young people aged 0-18 on waiting lists for further speech and language therapy. Again CHO4 area particularly South Lee in Cork fares the worst with 165 children waiting more than two years for treatment. In the North Lee Region, there were 165 children and young people waiting for further treatments in February, nine times the figure nationally.
- In February 2017 there were 2,520 children and young people on waiting lists to be seen for an initial assessment – an increase of over 44% from the same period last year. Again strong regional variances with Cork faring worse for instance, in the Cory/Kerry region, over 100 children and young people were waiting for more than 12 months for an initial assessment with CAMHS, whereas in the Clare/Limerick/Tipperary region no one waited for more than a year.
Assessment of Need
- At the end of 2016, of the 3960 overdue applications nationally for assessment of need, 1,732 of these were from the Cork/Kerry region. This is a shocking 44% of the total number of overdue applications nationwide.
Mr Horgan reiterated the need for the new Taoiseach to place this investment at the heart of his new Government.
“This investment is paltry compared to the overall Budget line in the HSE. We have waited long enough and seen enough reports and analysis to know what needs to be done. For the sake of the families and the children in the system, the new Government must act.