Search icon

Children's health

02nd Aug 2023

Waiting times for children in need of urgent care have increased by 30% in just 12 months

Jody Coffey

waiting lists

Cork has some worrying figures.

Upwards of 100,000 children nationwide are on waiting lists for first-time intervention in primary hospitals for services in eyes, speech and language, physio and psychology.

An alarming 30,000 of those children have been on waiting lists for more than a year.

Figures from the HSE between May last year compared to May this year show an additional 13,000 babies and children aged between 0 and 17 years have been added to waiting lists across the country.

As children who are on the Children’s Disability Network Teams lists are not provided by the Health Service Executive (HSE), the exact number is estimated to be much higher.

The breakdown of the HSE figures for children aged 0-17 in need of and waiting to access urgent care are as follows:

  • An alarming 32,071 children are on waiting lists for speech and language (SLT) related issues; initial assessments (15,941); further SLT (8,957);  SLT initial therapy (7,489).
  • 16,253 children have been recorded as waiting for psychological treatment, 16,616 for initial contact for ophthalmology (issues relating to eyes and vision) , and 15,941 are waiting for a first-time assessment for occupational therapy.
  • Children in need of audiology treatment see 11,123 waiting to be called,8,850 are waiting for a physiotherapy assessment, while 6,622 children are waiting for dietetics treatment.

The HSE provided these figures following a parliamentary question from East Cork TD Seán Sherlock.

It was revealed by the HSE that the TD’s own county has 3,376 children waiting for a first-time assessment for occupational therapy in May this year, accounting for over 20% of the national figure.

Around 996 children of this figure have been waiting a year to meet with an occupational therapist.

And 4,329 children in Cork are waiting for treatment for ophthalmology, which makes up just over 26% of the waiting list nationwide.

1,995 of them have been waiting a year to see an ophthalmologist.

Deputy Sherlock is now calling on the government “step in at the highest level” and do something for the thousands of children who have remained and currently remain on waiting lists for urgent care across Ireland.