Tuesday, 4 October 2016
Commencement Matters (Resumed)
I welcome the Minister of State to the House. She has been a frequent visitor since her appointment. I wish to raise the issue of psychological services in west Cork, in particular child and family psychology services. Recently, I was told by the HSE that there is a 22 month delay for a child to receive these services. I was very shocked to learn there is a wait of 22 months in cases where early intervention is required. The case I dealt with involved a very young child and 22 months is almost one third of that child's life. Issues such as dyspraxia need to be dealt with at a very early stage. Issues arise if we do not intervene early.Research has shown that for a child's quality of life, physical and social well-being and economic potential into the future, early intervention is important. There has been a major cut in this service in the past few years, the restoration of which is vital. A scheme has been put in place under which nurses are offered €1,500 to return home. What initiatives are being put in place to improve psychological services in Cork? This is an emotive issue in that we are speaking about children, in particular. Mothers and fathers are concerned about their children not having an appropriate start in life and every delay of one week is a major worry for them. That parents have to wait 22 months for a first response from the HSE is shocking. I hope provision will be made in the budget to ensure parents will not have to wait almost two years to have a child assessed. Even at that point they are only getting a foot on the ladder in that the child will be the subject of an assessment but there will be no delivery of a service. This is a major concern.
I hope the Minister of State will use her powers to ensure this issue is addressed. If it not addressed, it will impact on society. While the development of mental health services is important, this, too, is an important issue. With proper funding, we can address this and other mental health issues and, I hope, provide the service the people of Cork, west Cork in particular, deserve.