CHILDREN in Laois are waiting up to three years for hearing tests, as local waiting lists reach crisis point.
Latest figures show that 1,383 people are waiting for hearing tests and treatment in Laois-Offaly. A total of 315 are waiting longer than a year and 255 are waiting over two years. Worst of all, 185 of them are children, with some waiting up to 156 weeks – which is three years – just for an appointment with an audiologist.
The figures were given in response to a parliamentary question from Laois TD Brian Stanley, who says local audiology services are in crisis. He said the figures released last week are an all-time high and paint “a stark picture of the absolute lack of audiology services in the midlands”.
Deputy Stanley pointed out that there has been no permanent paediatric audiologist in Laois-Offaly since last March, as both posts are vacant. The only service for children in this area is provided by a visiting audiologist from Dublin.
He said: “Overall, the service is chronically under-resourced and in crisis. We have children in Laois-Offaly waiting up to three years for appointments. This is totally unacceptable to expect people to wait this amount of time for any appointment.”
The Sinn Féin TD added that timely examinations and ‘appropriate interventions’ such as hearing aids are particularly important for children, as their education could be affected by not being able to follow what is going on at school.
Deputy Stanley claimed that a recruitment freeze imposed by the government is preventing HSE management from filling vacant positions which have already been granted. He called for the embargo on recruitment to be lifted, so as to allow audiology services in Laois-Offaly to function.
Adding that he appealed to health minister Simon Harris to have audiologists appointed, deputy Stanley said: “People’s quality of life, ability to function and the education of children is at stake here. A huge effort must be made to clear the long waiting lists.