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17th Nov 2020

Thousands of Irish children have missed out on developmental checks

Trine Jensen-Burke

Irish children miss developmental checks

As public health nurses across the nation have been deployed to Covid duties, thousands of Irish children have missed out on developmental checks over the past several months.

Normally, parents of young children will be required to bring them in and meet with public health nurses a number of times between they are born and they turn three, checks that are designed to ensure the children are developing as they should and meeting developmental milestones.

Nurses will monitor a baby’s health, or spot any disabilities or problems with a child’s growth.

However, back at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, most developmental checks were stopped as the HSE suspended all “non-essential clinical work”.

According to the Independent, the HSE confirmed that “a level of service continued to be provided for those referrals considered to be a priority”, but the majority of children have missed out on the examination.

And now, months later, parents are still being told that developmental checks are not available, and it is not yet known when they will resume again.

More worryingly, these delays also apply to a number of speech and language services for children.

“The HSE has developed a formal programme of work under the governance of the chief clinical officer and chief operations officer, namely the Continuity of System-Wide Healthcare Services Steering Group,” said a spokesperson for the HSE.

“The focus is to plan the recommencement of the delivery of non-Covid services to address ongoing clinical demands while maintaining capacity for Covid-19 rapid response.”

There has still not been any confirmation on a date when services will reassume, but the HSE did say they are ‘putting preparations in place.’

“A date for the resumption of developmental checks has not been set, but the preparatory work in terms of infrastructure readiness to ensure a clean and safe environment is underway,” a spokesperson for the HSE confirmed.

“This programme of work is a priority for the HSE and every effort will be made to restore this and other non-Covid services as soon as possible in a safe and effective way.”