Over 400 local children now waiting on assessment for therapy treatment

By Maurice Garvey

OVER 400 children in Dublin Mid-West – including many in Clondalkin and Lucan – are waiting more than six months for a first assessment for Occupational Therapy treatment.

Within that, 215 children are waiting over a year, according to Fianna Fáil TD John Curran.

Lisa Coleman 02032017

Deputy Curran asked Health Minister Simon Harris for the latest figures through a Parliamentary Question, and fears “something within the system is not working properly.”

He cited a discrepancy in waiting times for the Dublin West region compared to national figures.

Deputy Curran said: “I was informed by the HSE that of the number of children waiting on a first-time assessment, it is likely that the majority of those assessed will require treatment.

“Up to 105 of those waiting are under the age of five. We all know the earlier the intervention the better the outcomes. There is never the same potential for a child if they are not helped at this young age. If a three-year-old has developmental delays, having to wait a year or two for treatment is a significant proportion of their lives.”

However, parents of children who require sensory supports in Clondalkin fear the figures are much higher, with Greenfort parent Lisa Coleman revealing frus-tration at “waiting lists to get on waiting lists.”

Lisa established the Clondalkin Autism Mammies Facebook group after “fighting tooth and nail” for years to try and get supports for her son Mason (9), who has autism.

“There is still a lot of kids that haven’t even been seen,” said Lisa.

“They are on a waiting list to be seen for OT, and speech and language. There is a waiting list to get onto a waiting list.

“A lot of parents are going private, paying €200-300 for an assessment, in order to put their kid’s name down for a place in pre-school, but the schools say they need a HSE report. You are literally going around in circles.”

Clondalkin parents have to get their kids assessed at Child and Adult Mental Health Services (CAHMS) in Cherry Orchard Hospital – which is required before one can access health and educational supports.

However, waiting times are so bad at Cherry Orchard Hospital, that parents have been getting letters from staff in CAHMS, directing them to complain to the HSE.

Lisa says curve balls are also thrown at parents to kick assessment and diagnosis “down the line” and they are left to “fight their own corner.”

A local parent complained to the Ombudsman over the delays under the Disability Act, and received a response – seen by The Echo – which states her complaint is number 552 they are dealing with out of 1,119 complaints received in 2016.

There is currently a five-six month delay in responding to complaints, which the Ombudsman acknowledges is “far from ideal.”
Deputy Curran is calling on the Minister for Health to look into the waiting lists in the area.

“Too many children have their lives effectively on hold because of under-resourced and under-staffed services,” he said.

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