Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin Mid-West, John Curran has expressed his disappointment at the fact there is no provision in the HSE 2019 service plan for an additional speech and language therapist for CHO 6, which covers the Dublin Mid-West area.

Deputy Curran also called for a renewed focus on filling the current vacancies in the area and said that people will continue to suffer unless efforts are stepped up.

“I am deeply disappointed that there is no plan to provide an additional therapist. The service is already under severe pressure in the area given the five full-time vacancies and one part-time vacancy”, said Deputy Curran.

“The HSE must step up efforts to fill these vacancies and the Minister must ensure this happens. He cannot continue to talk about a recruitment crisis, he must do something about it.

“In Dublin Mid-West, 843 people are waiting for a speech and language assessment while there are 531 people waiting on initial therapy services and a further 1,235 people waiting for follow up therapy.

“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 Minister’s constant ‘fire-fighting’ approach isn’t working. He is using much needed funds for primary care services, such as speech and language therapy, to plaster over the cracks in other HSE areas.

“We need the government to adopt a more strategic plan to address the challenges facing our health service, with a real focus on recruitment and retention. The current plan is simply not working,” concluded Deputy Curran.