Harris under fire over Longford child psychology figures

Cllr Mark Casey

Cllr Mark Casey (Ind)

Health Minister Simon Harris is to be pressed into pumping additional state revenue into cutting child psychology waiting lists after it emerged there are over 7,000 children awaiting assessments.

The extent of the backlog was contained in the latest report by the Children’s Rights Alliance on Government Services for Young People.

Cllr Mark Casey addressed the topic at a recent meeting of Longford County Council after a local parent approached him over the issue.

He said in that particular episode it was feared the child in question was running the risk of entering secondary school without even having the opportunity of being examined.

“There is a possibility of that child going through National School without getting assessed,” said Cllr Casey.

“That is an absolutely ridiculous situation to be in.

“We need to get on top of this and write to the Minister for Health.”
The Independent councillor was not alone in expressing his anxieties with several other local representatives following suit.

Cllr Pat O’Toole said in his former capacity as CEO of St Christopher’s Services he too experienced frustrations over the level of trained professionals in the health system.

“Psychological assessment is an assessment need and the two go hand in hand. If you miss out it’s vital in terms of your school and if you are entitled to an SNA (Special Needs Assistant) or not,” he said.

“They have got to start recruiting senior psychologists or therapists. I know when I was in the services there was a dearth of these people.
“We have got to try and keep these people at home because there is an absolute crying need for them in this country.”

That appeal follows revelations heard by an Oireachtas committee that in some cases children with mental health difficulties and eating disorders are waiting more than 15 months for psychology appointments.

Management from three Community Healthcare Organisations (CHOs) around the country told members of the Joint Committee on the future of Mental Health Care on Thursday that recruitment shortages were creating challenges across all areas, most particularly for consultant and nursing posts.

It’s now anticipated a letter outlining the concerns of local politicians in Longford will be sent to Mr Harris’ department over the coming days.

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