Social Democrats Councillor for Trim Municipal District, Ronan Moore, has expressed grave concern after the HSE confirmed that hundreds of occupational and speech and language therapists continue to be redeployed for testing and contact tracing, while children needing assessments are being told to wait.

In response to a Parliamentary Question from Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall TD, the HSE confirmed that, as of September, a combined total of 317 occupational and speech and language therapists had been redeployed for testing and contact tracing.

Commenting, Cllr Moore said:

“I am aware of one case where a three-year-old girl, having waited for more than a year for an assessment with both an occupational therapist and speech and language therapist, had been given a date to be seen in May 2020. However, she continues to wait with no appointment in sight.

“The HSE has admitted that the redeployment of staff for testing and tracing has led to an increase in the number of patients on waiting lists for therapy services.

“Assessments and early intervention are absolutely vital in the development of children who need extra support. It is unacceptable that a child should have to wait more than one third of their life to be seen. I’m sure there are many more children across the country in similar situations.”

Cllr Moore added:

“Unacceptably long waiting lists in this area are, sadly, nothing new. However, the fact that these specialised therapists are still involved in swabbing and making phone calls seven months after the pandemic started is entirely unacceptable.

“Back in the summer, the HSE advertised for testing and tracing staff but it has clearly failed to recruit sufficient numbers and is instead still relying on the redeployment of its own specialised staff who are urgently needed in their own roles.

“This is simply a dire situation for children waiting to be seen; for parents burdened with the knowledge that their child’s development is being delayed; and for our professional frontline staff who are near breaking point.”

October 29, 2020

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