main banner

Worrying Wait Lists For Children's Medical Care

Worrying Wait Lists For Children's Medical Care

It's a sad coincidence that as we at eumom.ie prepare a new series looking at the challenges many families face while dealing with special needs and disability; a new survey has revealed that wait lists for children's medical care are far in excess of targets, with many children waiting over a year for an initial assessment.

Barnardos is calling on the Government to immediately address the extensive waiting lists for key areas essential to a child’s development; after worrying findings of delays in access to assessments and treatments; clear regional variations in the care children receive; and many parents being forced to pay privately for the treatments their children need, placing families under huge financial and emotional strain as a result.

My child is struggling every day and we have no idea how long we have to wait to see professionals to get help.” - Parent in Meath

As Barnardos CEO Fergus Finlay has said, “The waiting list figures make for sobering reading. It reinforces how cycles of poverty, disadvantage and ill-health occur when access to healthcare is denied from such a young age. We also see very strong regional variations… Where you live should not determine how quickly you can get help for your child when they need it.”

  • In February 2017, there were 2,520 children and young people on waiting lists for an initial assessment for Mental Health Services - an increase of over 44% from the same period last year. 10% had been waiting more than 12 months for their initial appointment.
  • Of the 10,100 children waiting for speech and language therapy – only 55% of these were seen within 4 months with 2% waiting over two years.
  • The average timeframe for getting an assessment to determine scale of disability is 11 months – in excess of the statutory framework of 3-6 months.

Barnardos believes that access to health services must be based on need; not on the ability to pay. As a matter of urgency, they're calling on the Government to guarantee:

  •  One Multidisciplinary Primary Care Team for every 1,500 children.  These teams must comprise GPs, nurses, home helps, physiotherapists, speech and language, psychologists and occupational therapists, and act as a one stop shop for community care needs.
  •  The development of 24/7 Crisis Intervention Mental Health services across the country: Young people have described accessing supports through hospital A&Es as inappropriate and distressing to an individual experiencing a mental health crisis. 
  • To ensure adequate staffing levels in the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, and HSE Early Intervention Teams.
  •  To implement a National Early Intervention Policy, guaranteeing standards of assessment, and provision of services nationwide.

“Getting access to medical assessments and treatment when a child needs them is crucial, otherwise it really can impair their ability to grow … “The Government committed a quarter of their entire budget to the Department of Health last year (€14.6 of €58 billion). Why are children languishing on waiting lists despite these levels of investment? Too many children’s health, wellbeing and overall development is being compromised because of our insufficient and non-responsive public health system” reiterated June Tinsley, Head of Advocacy at Barnardos

Emily is 2 years 10 months old and has been completely deaf for the last 18 months as she is waiting for a basic grommets operation. She has no language at the minute and has no way of communicating. It has affected her speech development as well as her overall social development ... the entire window for early development has been missed for the sake of a 15 minute operation.” - Barnardos staff member

The effects of this ongoing struggle are being felt across the country; with waiting times and understaffing becoming a focus on a number of 'Mom's Queries' on our Facebook Page in recent weeks.  It is paramount that children receive the support and treatment they need as quickly as possible, to avoid lasting harm to their development, growth and wellbeing. We hope that this growing crisis in the Health Service will be tackled with the utmost urgency. 

What has your experience been of wait lists for the assessment and treatment of your child? You can comment below, or continue the discussion on Facebook


About the Author

eumom team 

Comments

Please login to leave a comment.