Waiting list delays for Psychology Services needs to be addressed

The Primary Care Psychology Service in the Cork and Kerry Community Health Organisation (CHO) provides vital services for children, aged 18 and under, with social, emotional or behavioural problems. This is a critical service; mental health has a profound effect on an individual’s quality of life, physical and social well-being, as well as long-term economic productivity.

Cork based Senator Tim Lombard said: “It was recently brought to my attention that the wait times to receive Psychological Services in Cork are extremely long. The HSE confirmed that the current waiting period for assessment is 22 months.

“I was shocked, and deeply concerned by this news. 22 months is a huge period of time in the life of a child, and a very substantial portion of their development. An 8 year old child could be waiting a quarter of its lifetime just to be assessed; we’re not even talking about progression being made here, just waiting a quarter of a lifetime to receive an assessment.

“This is absolutely unacceptable. Research shows that early intervention is an essential factor in increasing likelihood of positive outcomes; the earlier an issue is understood and resolved the better the overall outcome, not just for the individual but the wider community.

“The current delays to receive vital psychological services cannot continue if we are to give our children the best possible start and a foundation for a positive future. If waiting list delays are not addressed soon there will be long-term effects on the wider community due to things such as reduced economic productivity and more complex and financial exhausting issues.

“I raised this issue in the Seanad this week, discussing the current 22 month delay for Psychology services in Cork and Kerry CHO with specific focus on the need to reduce wait times for said services.

Senator Lombard, Seanad Debate: waiting list delays need to be reduced

“I am happy with the response presented by the junior minister in the Department of Health who stated that there were current plans to recruit 4 full-time staff for the Cork and Kerry CHO. It was also confirmed that a number of actions are being undertaken in within the Psychology service to try and reduce the waiting list, including: drop-in clinics (so avoiding waiting list altogether), maximising the input of trainee psychologists, and facilitating group work and staff training as much as possible.

“These are welcome developments, it is good to see that the issue is known and attempts are being made to resolve it. I have also been advised that the Cork and Kerry CHO is currently reviewing the waiting lists for therapy services, psychology included, in order to identify any opportunities that exist to improve wait times.

“Proper funding is often an issue associated with providing the best service possible, so I hope that psychology services will be given due consideration in the upcoming budget so that the people of Cork, and the wider Irish community, can receive the service they not only require but deserve.

“Reducing wait times for therapy services is critical. I will raise this issue again in 2 months to see what progress has been made and ensure that we continue to make improvements with relation to psychology services.”

04 October 2016

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