CONFIRMATION that there are over a thousand people waiting for speech and language therapy in Limerick has prompted local Fianna Fáil TD Willie O’Dea to call on Disability Minister Finian McGrath to set targets to ensure that the waiting list is reduced.
He made the call after receiving new figures from the HSE which reveal that 1,577 people in Limerick and North Tipperary are on a waiting list for either an initial assessment, initial therapy or further therapy.
Deputy O’Dea explained, “These figures are shocking and illustrate the seriousness of the crises within our health service. The fact that there are over 600 people waiting for an initial assessment is particularly worrying.
“These waiting times fly in the face of best practice. It is deeply frustrating for people to be told that they will have to wait months, or even years, before they will be assessed for an essential service. Any delay in assessment will lead to delays in treatment and this could have a detrimental impact on outcomes.
“The government boasted that it had secured the biggest budget on record for the health service for 2019. While this may be the case, we need to see this money used effectively and cutting waiting lists should be a priority,” he added .
“We need to ensure that staffing levels are brought up to what is necessary and that vacant posts are filled in a timely manner. The policy of leaving posts vacant for months or years has to end.
Responding to Deputy O’Dea’s comments, a spokesman for the HSE said: “The latest validated figures for the number of patients waiting for initial assessment, initial therapy and further therapy in the Speech and Language Therapy Services in Limerick city and county and North Tipperary at the end of December 2018 was 1,577 patients.
“The number of patients waiting for initial assessment, initial therapy and further therapy in the Speech and Language Therapy Services in East Limerick and North Tipperary was 596 patients and the number of patients waiting for initial assessment, initial therapy and further therapy in the Speech and Language Therapy Services in the remaining areas of Limerick city and county was 981 patients,” the HSE spokesman confirmed.