Children waiting over three years to see psychologists
298 children on Dublin southwest waiting list for speech and occupational therapists
There has been no movement in the waiting list for the past 11 months. Photograph: iStock
The waiting time for a child to see a psychologist or speech and language therapist in parts of south Dublin has risen to more than three years and is expected to increase further due to staffing issues, parents have been told.
The waiting time for a child to be seen by a School Age Team (SAT) in southwest Dublin is now 41 months and is growing monthly because the team does not have the capacity to safely take on additional cases, according to the Health Service Executive (HSE).
These teams, comprising child psychologists, speech and language therapists and occupational therapists, provide services to children aged five to 18 years with developmental needs.
There are currently 298 children on the Dublin southwest SAT waiting list, and a further 18 awaiting transition from an early intervention team to the SAT, the HSE has told Solidarity TD Paul Murphy.
It says there has been no movement in the waiting list for the past 11 months because of the volume of children transferring from the early intervention service, the caseloads of team members, delays in the filling of positions, and maternity leave positions not being backfilled.
The team is operating without a dedicated manager, which is an essential resource in managing waiting lists, according to Carol Cuffe, head of social care in Dublin south, Kildare and west Wicklow.
“The situation is highlighted constantly through letters/reports and risk assessments,” she said.
While 100 new therapy posts were allocated in the last budget, “we have not been advised how many will be allocated to Dublin south, Kildare and west Wicklow”.
Mick Whittaker said his son Harry had been waiting to be seen by a SAT for an attention disorder since he was originally assessed at the age of four back in July 2015.
His original assessment of needs was delayed by almost a year because his application “lay on a desk after a member of staff went out sick”, he added.
Mr Whittaker said he lodged a complaint which was upheld but this had no impact on his son’s place on the waiting list as other children’s applications had also been delayed.
“First they told us he would have to wait six to 12 months, then it was 12-18 months, and the last time I talked to them I was told it would be over three years,” he said.
According to Mr Whittaker, one of the reasons why the waiting list is so long is because “the team are so good – a lot of people never leave them”.