Over 300 children in Donegal waiting years for speech therapy

Speech-TherapyThere is a severe lack of speech therapists in the health service in Co Donegal.

Over 300 children in the county are waiting years for speech therapy, even though experts acknowledge delays are robbing young people of the chance to reach their full potential.

A new study to be published today indicates that extensive waiting lists, combined with a serious shortage of therapists, are signs of a system not able to cope with demand.

The working paper report from Inclusion Ireland, the disability support organisation, reveals the full extent of the crisis facing children who are left to endure the negative social and educational effects due to speech and language disorders.

It discovered a "postcode lottery" affects a child's chances of getting therapy.

In Donegal there are over 300 children with complex needs for every therapist, while in the Cork South Lee and Wicklow regions there are less than 100 children with complex needs for every therapist.

There should be case-loads of no more than 30-65 children per therapist but no health area in Ireland comes close to this, said author of the paper Pauline Conroy, a social policy expert.

She said in order to meet this standard the current number of therapists in HSE disability services would need to be doubled from 283 to 565.