Senator Thomas Byrne says much more needs to be done by the Government to ensure children are given access to speech and language therapy.
The Fianna Fáil Dáil candidate for Meath East made the comments after receiving confirmation from the HSE that children are currently facing significant delays in accessing speech and language supports.
“In recent months I have been contact by a number of concerned parents who say they are finding it impossible to access speech and language therapy for their children. I have been following up on the issue with the HSE and they have recently confirmed to me that children are facing long delays in accessing therapy due to staff shortages,” said Senator Byrne.
“These children have already been assessed and it has been determined that they need speech and language support. However they are now being told that they have to wait months before getting the support they need. This is because the Government has failed to allocate the necessary number of speech and language therapists.
“Research shows that early intervention is vital in ensuring children can overcome speech and language difficulties. Any delay in providing these supports has a very real and negative impact on these children’s lives. It’s simply inexcusable that parents are being told their children will have to do without support because of staff shortages.
“I understand that this situation has arisen in Meath because the HSE has failed to assign a speech and language therapist to cover a staff member who is on maternity leave. This is just another example of the HSE trying to save on staffing costs, which has come about because of the Government’s continued mismanagement of the health budget.
“Only 27 additional speech and language therapists have been recruited across the country in 2015, while 1,580 children are waiting more than a year for therapy. The Government simply is not serious about providing the necessary supports to help children overcome learning difficulties,” said Senator Byrne.