Wednesday, 1 February 2017
Department of Health
Speech and Language Therapy Provision
143. To ask the Minister for Health his views on whether the HSE's one-year target for children's speech and language therapy assessments is sufficiently ambitious; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4664/17]
I am aware of initiatives in train in the HSE addressing the delivery of speech and language therapy provision and I believe they will bring with them positive impacts on the models of care and waiting lists.
In 2016, the HSE committed to undertake a review of the model and provision of primary care speech and language therapy services, particularly for children. The National Therapy Service Review Group was established to agree a revised national model of Speech and Language Therapy provision that would be standardised across all Community Healthcare Organisations. This would cover referral criteria, assessment and treatment arrangements, models of care and standardisation of a prioritisation system for Speech and Language Therapy. It is anticipated that the group will have completed its work by the end of March 2017.
In addition, in 2016, €4 million was provided under the HSE's National Service Plan to focus specifically on speech and language therapy waiting lists in Primary Care and Social Care for children up to 18 years old. This funding is enabling the HSE to fill 83 new full-time and recurring posts to address waiting lists, prioritising the longest-waiting children and recruitment is ongoing. I understand that there was a 9.3% reduction in the overall 0-18 year old waiting lists for the period 31 July 2016-31 December 2016.
The HSE National Service Plan has a target that, at end 2017, no one will wait more than one year for Speech and Language Therapy. For further details on the particular targets for speech and language therapy in 2017, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply.