Barnardos: ’Untold damage’ caused to children spending years on waiting lists

Barnardos says the damage to children as they wait years for essential health services cannot be understated.

After reviewing the last seven months of waiting list data, the charity is critical of the long delays and also of the widespread regional inconsistencies in the time children are left to wait for assessment and/or treatment.

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June Tinsley, Head of Advocacy with Barnardos, is calling on the Government to firstly stop treating private patients in public hospitals as recommended by the Slaintecare proposal.

“Childhood is a time of rapid development - untreated speech and language challenges or mental health difficulties can severely impact a child’s ability to communicate, to learn, to develop relationships and to function in the world," said Ms Tinsley.

"The damage caused by lengthy delays in accessing services cannot be understated. Tragically, the longer a child waits for an intervention the less likely it is that treatment will be effective."

Ms Tinsley welcomed a 35% decrease in the number of children waiting longer than a year for speech and language assessment between February and September of this year.

However, she claims that this improvement is diminished as there has been an 11% increase nationally in the number of children waiting more than two years.

"Combining assessment wait times with treatment wait times means that some children particularly those in Dublin South West, Kildare and West Wicklow (CHO7) could be waiting more than four years for treatment," she revealed.

"It is clear that the volume of public speech and language services currently provided does not meet supply."

Data shows that there were 2,333 children waiting for mental health services in September 2017 - a decrease of 9% since February.

According to Ms Tinsley, many parents end up paying for private services in an effort to combat the long wait for their children.

"A two-tier health system where parent’s ability to pay determines their child’s access to treatment deepens this divide and perpetuates disadvantage and inequality," Ms Tinsley said.


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