A MID WEST TD has called for urgent action to reduce waiting lists as it emerged that there are 1,234 children are on a waiting list for first appointments to see a speech and language therapist in the region.
Sinn Féin Deputy Violet-Anne Wynne made the call following a recent response to a query on the figures from the HSE.
She said she was deeply concerned about the delays in initial assessment appointments across the Mid-West as 110 children were waiting more than 12 months.
“These figures are concerning especially considering the extra delays that will be caused by Covid-19.
“Successive Governments have allowed long waiting lists to build up and this is not acceptable. The Minister and the HSE must ensure that the resources required to reduce these waiting times are made available immediately.
Responding to a query from the Limerick Post, a spokesman for the HSE said the Children’s Services operate under the National Progressing Disability Services Model.
“The focus is on the functional need and goals of the family and the child as oppose to individual therapy intervention. The HSE’s interdisciplinary team work together with the families to support them to achieve their goals.
“At present, HSE Mid West Community Healthcare have 33 families awaiting an initial family centred practice appointment. The current policy is that a child referred to the Early Intervention team will have their initial contact appointment within 12 weeks of referral.
“If a child is deemed an urgent referral, the initial contact appointment is offered to the family sooner than 12 weeks. Our current priority is the safe provision and restoration of services.
“Appointments due to Covid 19 have been occurring remotely via our telehealth system which can be through telephone or video platforms. Face to face sessions have just re-commenced for the children and families who are deemed to have the highest level of need by speech and language services, the referrals for which are clinically triaged and are prioritised based on clinical presentation.
“The HSE is currently enabling works of existing premises and sourcing additional accommodation in order to facilitate the full restoration of services,’ the spokesman added.