Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Disability Margaret Murphy O’Mahony has hit out at the lack of progress in the provision of children’s disability services. The Deputy was commenting after receiving a range of information showing that services in the disability sector are continuing to suffer.

“HSE Service Plans for 2016, 2017 and 2018 all state that work to reconfigure children’s disability services into into geographically based Children’s Disability Network Teams (early-intervention and school-aged or 0–18 teams) was underway. At that stage there were 56 teams in place with another 129 teams to be in place by the end of 2016. I raised this issue again this summer and was told the new teams would be in place by the end of 2018, however the latest figures supplied to me reveal there are still only 56 teams across the country”, said Deputy Murphy O’Mahony.

“Not only are there not enough Children’s Disability Network Teams, the waiting times for children to receive a first assessment for occupational therapy are truly shocking. There are 6,531 under 18’s waiting over a year. Despite this, there has been no increase in the number of occupational therapists employed in HSE disability services in the first eight months of this year.

“There are also serious gaps in speech and language provision, in fact, there were 7 fewer speech and language therapists on the HSE payroll in August this year compared with the previous December.

“Given that around 37,000 are waiting either for assessment, initial or further treatment, this level of recruitment simply isn’t good enough. Budget 2019 has promised 100 extra therapists, however this government’s record in recruiting key posts leaves a lot to be desired. We need to see this essential roles filled without delay”.