I thank the Minister of State for being present this morning. I look forward to her response.
We all know the importance of early intervention for children when it comes to critical therapy services. I know this is also a matter close to the Minister of State's own heart, and that of the Taoiseach. I have spoken to both of them previously about cases I have been working on and they are also looking at these issues and trying to find the answers. However, I am sorry to say that in many cases at the moment, we are not getting there soon enough. What is worse, for many worried parents, is the complete lack of empathy shown by the HSE. I will read a recent email from a very stressed parent in my area. She states:
... I have another pressing concern for [my son]. He is in serious need of speech and language therapy. He was [given] an initial assessment for speech and language in Shamrock Plaza in April 2021. We were [given] exercises to do and were scheduled to go back in June 2021. We received communication that we had been transferred to the disability team. There has been a lack of communication from then in the past year apart from last summer when they were in the process of moving this service over.
I've called numerous times to try [and] speak to someone. The only communication I've received in this regard is a letter to tell me to stop ringing them. They are too busy to give [my son] an appointment. It is absolutely ridiculous how our children and the families of these children are being treated.
[My son]'s paediatrician has sent letters to the service explaining the urgency of the situation ... They haven't even received a response to these letters.
[My son] is scheduled to start preschool [at the end of August this year] and national school in 2023. He is being let down by these so called services again and again. He is well able to attend main stream school but the longer he is left without these services, the harder it will be for him to settle into school.
At the end of that email, the lady in question wrote a very serious line, asking, "Can you please help some very stressed parents?" They are at breaking point. What I want to know is how the Minister of State can help. Would she agree that this is no way to treat parents? The parents who are contacting me are at breaking point. The communication from the HSE to the parents has not been acceptable. This lady told me she has been tormented. She has been ringing and ringing and yet has not received any other information. No one is communicating with her. What can we do? How are we with regard to early intervention services for the children who need them in CHO 5, Carlow-Kilkenny?