MORE than 200,000 children are on national hospital waiting lists, a statistic that has been described as “shocking” by a Limerick TD.
Limerick Fianna Fáil TD, Deputy Niall Collins says recently secured information from the HSE by the party shows that 117,000 children were waiting for hospital treatment.
The information on primary care adds another 90,000 children to existing lists, bringing the total to 214,737.
One in four of these children have been waiting more than a year.
Many children are waiting for years, often for primary care supports like speech and language, and others for critical operations for conditions such as scoliosis.
Deputy Collins said: “More and more parents have been contacting me about the inability to get care for their children. This includes very sick children in need of urgent surgery. It includes special needs children in urgent need of therapeutic supports like speech and language and occupational therapy. It includes children waiting for psychology, for diagnostic scans, and much more.
“We wanted to get a full picture of how bad things have got, and the results are shocking. 215,000 children are waiting. Many are in pain, many are deteriorating while they wait. This is a damning indictment of this government’s failures in healthcare. It is a dark stain on our country that this is happening.
“And this figure understates the full extent of the problem – many hospitals don’t report waiting lists for different age groups, diagnostics waiting lists are not reported by age, and the figures don’t include a huge number of children waiting for oral health preventative interventions in primary schools.
“A billion euro overspend on a children’s hospital that only adds a handful of extra beds for children is about the extent of the government’s work. These children and their families need solutions, and they need them now,” concluded Deputy Collins.
Suggested solutions that would work immediately according to Fianna Fáil include fast-tracking HSE hiring procedures, the removal of hiring embargo to staff up both hospital and primary care clinical teams, the acceleration of the provision of additional hospital beds for children, and funding for community groups working with children who need healthcare support.