Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Questions (61)

Martin Kenny


61. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Health the number of children waiting to see the school age psychologist in counties Sligo and Leitrim; when the school age psychologist will be in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5173/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

In Sligo / Leitrim children over the age of six are assessed by HSE School Aged Teams. At present there are 71 children aged between 6 and 17 years on the waiting list to see a psychologist and be assessed for Autism Spectrum Disorder.

In relation to Sligo / Leitrim, plans are currently underway to have assessments for Autism Spectrum Disorder completed by private assessors. With regard to the recruitment of a full time Senior Psychologist for the School Age Team, the HSE has advised that the successful candidate has accepted the post and it is hoped that they will be in place in Q2 2019.

The HSE recognises, that in many parts of the country, the waiting times for access to psychology assessment and therapy services are too long. This can be a source of distress for many parents and families. Several initiatives have been undertaken to address these waiting times.

Funding for an additional 100 therapy posts for children’s disability services was secured as part of Budget 2019. Detailed planning in relation to the location and breakdown of the posts is underway and is expected to be completed shortly.

As the Deputy may be aware, the HSE is actively progressing its reconfiguration of children’s disability services into geographically based teams under the Progressing Disability Services for Children and Young People programme . The objective of this programme is to provide one clear referral pathway for all children irrespective of their disability, where they live or the school they attend.

The additional therapy posts, along with the reconfiguration of services and other innovative approaches will have a significant positive impact on waiting times for therapy services for children.