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15,776 children waiting for speech and language assessment

Altogether, 1639 children waited for more than a year for their initial assessment of speech and language problems.

Image: Child talking via Shutterstock

LAST DECEMBER, THERE were 15,776 children who had been waiting for speech and language assessment across the country.

They were waiting months for an initial assessment from a HSE speech and language therapist.

Fianna Fáil’s Spokesperson on Disability, Mental Health and Special Needs Colm Keaveney released the figures, which show that 1,639 children waited for more than a year for an initial assessment of speech and language problems.

HSE

Keaveney described the figures as “further evidence that the HSE’s service for the basic assessment and treatment of children with disabilities is grossly inadequate”.

He said he believes the situation “makes a complete mockery of the whole concept of ‘early intervention”.

Not only are the waiting lists in Dublin much higher than other parts of the country, the figures actually mask the true extent of the problem as the HSE has in fact closed its Dublin waiting lists to all new applicants since June 2012.

He said he brought the figures to the attention of Health Minister Dr James Reilly a month and a half ago.

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Intervention supports

In February of this year, children’s charity Barnardos said that gaps in HSE early intervention supports for children with speech and language problems are putting their futures at risk.

Figures also released to Keaveney showed that there are a total of 58 early intervention teams dealing with 6,399 children across the country.

There are 11 HSE areas that have no teams at all.

Read: Gaps in HSE supports putting futures of children with speech problems at risk>

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