The Government should clarify why clinicians were re-deployed from children’s disability services when children are waiting up to 40 months for therapy, says a Sinn Fein TD.
The call comes from Dublin-Mid West TD Mark Ward and is in response to a parliamentary answer he received.
The answer said that 21 therapists have been redeployed from providing psychology, speech and language therapy and occupational therapy in his area.
In a statement, Deputy Ward said: “I am receiving a number of the following responses from the HSE after I made representations on behalf of parents trying desperately to obtain disability services for their children.”
A letter that Deputy Ward received from the HSE said that wait times for children’s therapy appointments were in excess of 40 months.
“The Health Service Executive has been requested to reply directly to you in regard to your representation,” the letter says.
“I have examined the matter and the following outlines the position. The current wait time for clinical services is as follows:
“Team assessment waiting times in excess of 3 ½ years.
“SLT waiting times in excess of 40 months.
“OT waiting times in excess of 40 months.
“PT waiting times in excess of 40 months.”
Deputy Ward says: “It is absolutely heart-breaking for me to have to send these types of responses out to parents.
“The Government is failing children to reach their developmental milestones.
“We have a history of industrial abuse of children in this state, but this current failure is systemic abuse.
“There is a huge backlog of children waiting for Assessment of Needs appointments.
“The Government have stated that tackling this waiting list is a priority for them to clear and I welcome this.”
However, Deputy Ward says that clinicians are being removed from district and redployed elsewhere.
“An Assessment of Needs is a tool used to decide what therapy a child needs to meet their developmental milestones.
“The assessment identifies your child’s health needs and what health services are needed to meet your child’s needs.
“I am deeply angered to find that in my own area that a number of clinicians in CHO7 have been redeployed from early intervention and school age disability teams into assessment of needs posts.
“Currently in CHO 7, the HSE have six Psychologists, seven Speech and Language Therapists and eight Occupational Therapists re-deployed from providing intervention on Early Intervention and School Age Teams to complete assessment, leaving children languishing on waiting lists.
“The state is more focused on meeting their statutory obligations’ as pertained in the Disability act of 2005.
“The Disability Act 2005 legally requires the Health Service Executive to carry out the assessment of need within 6 months.
“There have been 115 cases taken by parents to the circuit court over the failure of the HSE to provide Assessments of Needs in a timely manner as set out in the Disability Act 2005,” he says.
“The State Claims Agency has reported to the HSE that it has received 30 claims in relation to this assessment of needs matter.
“All 30 of these claims were received in 2020 and are currently being managed by the State Claims Agency on behalf of the HSE. As of 20/01/2021, there were no payments made
“The costs since 2018 of HSE appointed solicitors and counsel is €700,815. These costs include both Circuit Court and High Court Costs.
“The state has paid over €700k to defend the indefensible .
“The focus needs to be on early intervention. I am calling on the Government to immediately return these therapists to their posts and to recruit the additional therapists required.”